The Latest version of Blek 1.0 is update on June 30, 2014. Blek is a thing of elegant, intuitive beauty: an game which, like its host device, implores you to pick it up and play with it. When you do, it delights. It’s a puzzle game whose solutions require both careful forethought and raw experimentation. Swipe your finger across the iPad’s display and you create a snake-like line which then lives on, as Blek records and then redraws your fingerstroke, repeating that pattern to send it winding around the field of play. You’re left to observe your creation, helpless, as it loops about the screen or, with enough careful rehearsal, hit its intended targets.
In the beginning, Blek doesn’t give you much to go on. All the explicit instructions the game ever gives you is a simple little arrow with a swiping animation in the first stage. Touching the screen creates a little line that takes on a life of its own, moving in whatever ways you drew it. If you followed the instructions, your line will take off towards a colored circle causing it to disappear when the line touches it, and the stage is cleared. If you’re a rebel, or you have a shakey finger, your line might not hit that colored circle. Perhaps it went off the top or bottom of the screen and is lost. It may have hit that giant black circle on the left and disappeared. Maybe it bounced off the wall behind the circle, leading to one of the previously-mentioned possibilities. No matter what happens, you’ve learned something about how this strange little game works. So that’s how it starts, and for the next few stages, it’s not much more complicated than that. Circles are lined up, you fling a line at them like an arrow, and as long as your aim is true, you’ll be on to the next stage in no time. Things soon start to get more difficult, though. There are more black holes placed around the screen, or the circles are put in unusual patterns, and suddenly, your simple little lines and arcs aren’t doing the job. Perhaps in frustration, you make a scribble on the screen, and watching it move, you realize that this unassuming little game is a whole lot deeper than you thought. You start drawing complex patterns or doubling back on your lines, watching with glee as you clear previously impassable stages. The really cool thing is that the way you get past a level is up to you. The game gives no restrictions except that you have to clear all of the colored circles with one drawn line.
It sounds simple, and like any great puzzle game, it’s very simple to play. Don’t be fooled by the relatively easy-going nature of the early stages, however. There are 60 stages in the game, and by the time you get into the 20s, things get a bit tricky. Soon, you’ll not only have to understand the general pattern of the line you need to draw, you’ll also need to draw it very accurately and carefully. If the game breaks down a little anywhere, it’s here. Depending on the size of your finger and how well you can draw a precise line with it, you might have some issues getting the line you intended. In earlier levels, it’s not as big of a problem, since know what to draw takes precedence over drawing it perfectly. Later on, the margin of error is a lot thinner, so you’ll probably end up making unintended mistakes a bit more often. It’s not a big problem at all, since you can reset the stage simply by touching the screen to draw another line again, but I can easily see some people getting pretty frustrated, especially since you can’t proceed to the next stage until you’ve cleared the current one. That simple approach to gameplay is reflected in the rest of the game’s design. The game uses basic, flat colors for everything, with plain white backgrounds. There isn’t any music, and very few sound effects, with the most interesting ones reserved for when your line hits a black hole. Opening the game puts you immediately back in the last level you were playing. There are no options to choose from and no pause button. The only things you can do, apart from drawing a line, are to bring up the Game Center achievements or cycle through the stages you’ve unlocked by using three inobtrusive virtual buttons at the bottom of the screen. The subdued nature of the presentation fits the game, though. You’re going to be banging your head against some of these stages for a while, so keeping distractions or potential annoyances to a minimum is a good thing, in my books.
If you’re looking for something a little quirky or you enjoy a good puzzle game, you should definitely give Blek a try. It seems to have caught a serious gust of popularity in the App Store, and it’s easy to see why. Everyone likes to doodle, and Blek does a great job of guiding you from being a basic player to an advanced one through its stage progression. It’s quite difficult, but that just makes it all the more satisfying when you finally clear a tough stage you’ve been stuck on for a while. All in all, it’s a pretty cool and unusual puzzle game, and who doesn’t have room in their life for more of those?
Recognition & Commentaries
- “Perfect representation of touch-screen play” ~ The New York Times.
- “One of the greatest joys of Blek is experimenting with your approach.” ~ WIRED
- “What a completely marvelous thing!!” ~ Adam ‘Atomic’ Saltsman
- “It’s the sort of game you’d want to put on a space probe: when the aliens play it, they’ll take a liking to us right away.” ~ Joshua Rothman, The New Yorker
- “The genius of Blek’s design is that it channels that weird sense of freedom you get from helping a doodle unfold – the freedom that comes of kicking yourself loose from life’s formal structures” ~ Christian Donlan, Eurogamer
- “Wonderful experience” ~ Pocket Gamer
- “Blek is a thing of elegant, intuitive beauty” ~ Edge Online
- Best Mobile Game – Casual Connect Europe, Amsterdam
- Excellence in Innovation – International Mobile Gaming Awards
- Best Game – Content Award Vienna
- Blek is a unique game about imagination and personality. Everything you draw keeps moving – and watching your creations move is like watching magic.
- The goal is simple: shape a line that collects all colored circles avoiding black holes on its route. There are no specific moves that you need to master. To every level countless solutions exist, from delightfully simple to exceptionally deep and complex, yet always elegant.
- Exit the game with Back button double-tap. The Back button will now jump to the first stage after the first tap and exit the game after the second tap.
- Android 4.0 support.
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