Dots, one of the best and most popular mobile games of 2013, is finally getting a sequel of sorts, creator Betaworks announced this morning. It's called -- you guessed it -- TwoDots.
I've only been able to tinker with TwoDots for a few hours, but my first reaction upon opening up the new game was that it feels an awful lot like Candy Crush Saga.
I mean that as a compliment. Because while Dots was a beautiful game, it also felt slight -- even by the often slight standards of mobile gaming. I mean, all you did was connect dots when they lined up. And made squares, I guess, if you were feeling frisky.
TwoDots is a much meatier game in comparison. Like Candy Crush, it has turn-based puzzles that ask you to, say, move one object to the bottom of the screen in a set number of turns. Or collect a certain number of dots of various colours. As it progresses, levels gradually get trickier by introducing things like environmental challenges that make it harder to make those ever-elusive squares. Again like Candy Crush, the TwoDots "story" advances along a similarly colourful winding path.
That's right: there's a story this time too! You play TwoDots with Amelia and Jacques, the two characters shown below. The game's 85 levels are split into different thematic settings as well. Right now I'm still on the nautical-themed segment trying to bring anchor-shaped dots to the bottom of the screen as best I can.
So far I'm enjoying the ways that Betaworks seemed to learn from Candy Crush maker King.com in bringing this sequel to life. But my one concern is that the game will get more aggressive in its monetization tactics in turn. TwoDots is a free-to-play game with a lot of standard features that come with the territory -- power-ups and extra lives to help get through a tricky level, extra lives for players who don't want to wait for 15 minutes to try again once they have depleted their supply.
All of this is tolerable, I guess. But I'm a tad disappointed simply because I loved the way that the original Dots dealt with the whole free-to-play monetization question. It did so subtly -- so much so that I didn't even realise the game was asking me for money until weeks after I first downloaded it.
TwoDots, again, feels a lot more like Candy Crush than the original Dots in this regard. I've only gotten stuck on two puzzles so far, but I can already feel that tiny inkling of frustration -- the ongoing battle in mind between wanting to spend 99 cents just make something a little easier and the other, prideful gamer side that hates me for even thinking such a thing.
I haven't caved in yet, don't worry. And so far, I'm still enjoying the ride.
If you have an iOS device, you can download the game for free here.