Invert from Copenhagen-based Glitchnap stretches the concept of tile flipping games in new directions. The only constants in the game are that each flippable tile has two different colored sides, and the goal is to flip them, so the board is one, uniform color. Glitchnap describes Invert as a 2D Rubik’s cube-like puzzle game, which is apt on many levels.
Invert starts with fairly simple puzzles laid out in a grid with only a few flipped tiles. The challenge is that you can only flip whole rows of tiles at once requiring you to consider the impact on other tiles in the row. As the game progresses, Invert introduces the ability to flip tiles in patterns other than rows. The buttons at the end of each row of tiles indicate the shape of the flip pattern. It’s a small difference that adds complexity because it forces you to consider how each pattern interacts with the others adjacent to it.
In later levels, Invert changes the shape of the board too. Instead of simple squares with varying numbers of rows, Invert adds boards made up of hexagons, diamonds, and other shapes. The unique shapes and layouts create another twist that requires you to consider the relationship between the layout of the board, the shape of the tiles, and how each affect the flip patterns.
The pacing of Invert is excellent. There are twenty levels, each of which has eight puzzles. The early levels have a puzzle or two that are solved easily, which helps teach you how newly-introduced mechanics work. Invert doesn’t dwell on the easy puzzles long, though. Soon, you’re deep into mind-bendingly challenging puzzles.
The depth of Invert extends beyond the complexity and variety of its puzzles. There are three gameplay modes. In campaign mode, you have to solve each puzzle in a certain number of moves, whereas in challenge mode there is no limit on the number of moves it takes you to find a solution, but you're racing the clock. Both modes add a level of pressure to the game. Of the two, I prefer campaign mode because there’s no penalty for starting over if you run out of moves. Expert mode is unlocked after you collect 100 stars, which I haven’t quite reached yet.
Invert has many nice touches that make it a delight to play. The animations are playful and add to the sense that you are interacting directly with the tiles. Haptic feedback is used to great effect too. On an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus the haptic feedback supports the sound effects when you flip tiles. There is also a dark mode that themes the usually bright and colorful game in muted gray tones, which is useful for playing late at night.
My biggest disappointment with Invert is a complaint that I still have with many iOS games – it doesn’t sync across iOS devices. Invert is better suited for an iPhone screen than an iPad, but even so, I would like the ability to pick up where a left off no matter which device I have with me.
Puzzle games fit so naturally with mobile devices that it’s no wonder we’ve seen so much innovation in the genre recently. Despite the lack of sync, Invert is one of my favorite puzzle games to debut this year, and another excellent example of a simple and familiar concept expanded in a way that makes it feel fresh and fun. If you’re a puzzle game fan, Invert is a game you shouldn’t miss.
Invert is available on the App Store.