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Game Day: Evergrow

Many of the best games I've played on iOS recently remix elements of existing genres in new and unexpected ways. Evergrow by Imagility does just that, mixing puzzle, action, and tower defense elements into a fun, colorful game that keeps things interesting by throwing new details at you throughout the game.

You control a cheerful block floating through space. The goal is to grow your character as big as possible by dragging other squares of the same color that float by into position, so they attach to your original block. If a different colored square approaches, you need to swipe it away before it collides with you and causes damage.

Color matching forms the foundation of Evergrow, but there a lot more going on in the game. The physics of the squares adds a layer of complication and weight to Evergrow. As your square grows, its gravity increases pulling everything toward it and making it harder to avoid obstacles. The physics of the squares also means that you need to carefully drag matching ones into position to prevent a collision that pushes your block into harm's way.

The physics also adds to the immediacy of Evergrow making your swipes on the screen feel like they are moving physical objects through space. On the iPhone 7, that tactile feeling is enhanced by one of the best implementations of the Taptic Engine that I’ve tried in a game. It’s a little thing, but one that tipped the balance so that I prefer to play Evergrow on my iPhone instead of my iPad.

There are other obstacles to avoid in Evergrow too, like meteors and mines. Meteors zoom across the screen and can inflict serious damage if they hit your block. Meteors can be sent on a different trajectory by swiping them away, but often, there are too many approaching too quickly. That’s when Evergrow’s special blocks come into play. Shield, zapping, and other blocks that appear periodically throughout the game can help you defend against enemies but have to be strategically placed.

Two other facets of Evergrow keep it engaging. Coins can be collected as you float through space and later exchanged in an in-game workshop for blocks with special powers. There's also a challenge element that grants star ratings based on whether you accomplish certain goals in each level.

I’ve enjoyed Evergrow a lot. The smiling face on your block that greets you when you start to play is a cute, playful touch that also serves the purpose of making you feel invested in its survival. Also, the pace at which Evergrow adds new gameplay elements and challenges feels just right, keeping the game interesting without getting confusing or frustrating. Evergrow started as a relaxing exercise in growing my block and deflecting a few enemies, but as I reached higher levels, the pace became frenetic with an almost constant onslaught of obstacles and enemies. The result is a fun and absorbing game that’s easy to get lost in for long stretches.

Evergrow is available on the App Store.

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