Even if you somehow aren’t familiar with Alexey Pajitnov by name, you probably already have experienced his most famous and groundbreaking of videogame creations: Tetris. The master Russian game designer is now back once more, in conjunction with the staff of WildSnake Software, to bring puzzle gaming fans everywhere an all new falling block masterpiece. This newest title is called Dwice (out now, $1.99), which – having no relation to an earlier 2005 release of the same name – is truly an experience that could only have been realized via touch screens.

screen480x480In Dwice players are faced with a never ending series of “Battle Shapes” slowly falling down towards their city, threatening to utterly annihilate it if any of them should ever reach the bottom. The only way these bombs can safely be removed is by dragging them into other similar shapes, with more points being awarded for removing multiple blocks during a single combo. The player’s ability to drag a “Battle Shape” around isn’t tied to a grid, therefore they’ll have to be extra careful to not accidentally bump into any non-matching blocks or else they’ll trigger an apocalypse all the same.

In order to keep things from becoming stale, each stage in Dwice will challenge players to complete three different special objectives that are guaranteed to put their skills to the test. At least two of these must be completed in order to unlock the next level, while successfully conquering all three of them will permanently increase the player’s score multiplier. Later stages in the game – while more difficult – will mix things up with new mechanics that can greatly increase a player’s scoring potential, such as special inverted “Battle Shapes” that can still be paired with their non-inverted brethren.

If players can survive for a long enough period of time during a single run, then they will activate Dwice’s highly lucrative “Fever Mode” where all possible shape combinations become temporarily allowed. This is a player’s best chance to greatly increase their score, as otherwise unheard of combo streaks are now easily obtainable, but they will have to move quickly as the shapes are falling faster too. A player will – however – only be able to experience a single “Fever Mode” during any single play session of Dwice, unless they choose to acquire an IAP option that removes this limit.

screen480x480Yes, Dwice does have its own share of IAPs – the same as many other games available on the iTunes Marketplace – yet they are implemented here far differently than you’re normally used to seeing. Where as most other mobile games would sell you limited use power-ups, that you’d then have to repurchase over and over, all of the buyable options in Dwice are actually permanent unlocks. These include the aforementioned ability to have more than one “Fever Mode” per session, a smart-bomb shield that protects you from a single mistake, and the extremely important ability to independently grab more than one “Battle Shape” at a time.

Occasionally Dwice will randomly give you a single-time unlock to one of its power ups upon starting a stage, but the IAP solution is the only way to reliably have access to these all the time. This does mean that you are ultimately going to have to buy some of these, all of which are very cheap, unless you actually like waiting for a Random Number Generator to be magnanimous. This is all because you are eventually assigned quests demanding things such as two 20+ shape combos in a row, which is only possible if you have the ability to stop errant other shaped blocks without letting go.

This essentially turns Dwice’s initial asking price into a sort of demo-fee, where you can play with the earliest few stages until you decide whether or not you’d like to unlock the ability to go the full nine yards. While this might make some people less likely to want to pay the initial download cost, I will say that the actual odds of you liking Dwice – assuming you’re into these sorts of games – is actually rather good. The frantic gameplay – with the missions constantly changing up your priorities – is a real blast to tackle, and furthermore provides a breath of fresh-air by doing something that could only have been accomplished via touch screen.

The glowing neon-infused visuals, which give massive life to what otherwise would have been an endless parade of generic shapes, is merely the icing on top of Dwice’s already stellar cake.

iFanzine Verdict: Dwice is an all new neon-infused falling block puzzle, from the creator of Tetris, that brings some unique twists to the genre that could only have been realized on a touch screen based device. The ability to freely drag about blocks – without having your movement fixed to a grid – makes for engaging gameplay as you try to eliminate all of the falling “Battle Shapes”, and that goes doubly for when try to tackle the various challenges. While the fact that you need to buy IAP upgrades – in order to make significant progress – may be off-putting, they are thankfully one-time unlocks that are furthermore priced rather generously when compared to similar titles.