Glyph is an excellent puzzle game developed by Sandlot Games and ported to the iphone by Binoteq. The game features two modes, Quest and Action, both of which offer hours of entertainment. As the player chains three or more like-colored stones together and selects them for destruction, they release energy to break through the rock below. Break through the proper rocks and you will release the captured glyph fragment and progress to the next level. Collect fragments, piece together glyphs, and restore the world to its proper order!
Glyph should appeal to both relaxed and fast-paced puzzle gamers. The puzzles in both modes can be solved in a calm manner to begin with, but midway-through things get quite frantic. Rest assured, the game gives you plenty of time in quest mode to slowly build up your skills until things get crazy, and oh do they ever. Sandlot Games should be commended for making both modes highly entertaining and uniquely complex. Glyph also gets high marks for both graphics and sound. Animations and colors are bright and appealing; sounds are crisp and clear even without headphones. The game doesn’t have iPod support but it doesn’t really need it. It would be nice to have the option, of course, but the fact remains that the soundtrack that’s provided matches the theme and adds to the ambiance by being simple, yet pleasing.
Quest mode features 5 elemental worlds each with 25 levels. Each level has a covered glyph fragment which needs to be freed to progress. Levels are square boards with rock underneath the rows and columns of colored stones. As you destroy stones, the rock is chipped away to reveal a glyph. Quest mode is very complex. Thankfully, the wood world doubles as a tutorial, which is actually voiced by a female with a slight accent that just oozes production value.
The wood world tutorial is essential to understanding the nuanced special stone “artifacts” this game has. These artifacts affect multiple stones: some change stone colors, some destroy stones of one color, while others destroy entire rows or columns of stones that aren’t cooperating with you. True mastery of the game comes when you understand what artifacts you need and when to use them. Artifacts appear as you destroy stones, and only one is present at a time. Artifacts are critical as certain stones can only be removed with them. It can be rather frightening on later levels when you’re destroying stones like mad hoping for an artifact you need to appear before time is up. The timer can be replenished by destroying a large amount of stones, but if it runs out, you lose a life! A huge plus with Glyph is the ability to restart your quest after a game over from any level you’ve previously reached.
The layout of action mode should be comfortable for anyone who’s played Tetris, Dr. Mario, or Bejeweled. Depending on the level, rows of stones will be added from the top or bottom of the screen. As the timer winds down, a new row of stones is added. Destroy the stones before they fill the screen! Each level is complete after a set number of rows are added. You just have to last (which is easier said than done)! Artifacts appear in action mode along with all other stones. Several artifacts are often on screen at once and remain a very necessary tool to survive!
Aside from the slight bummer concerning the lack of iPod support, my only minor issue with Glyph is that you can only have one quest at a time. For those of us who often share our iPhones, this may become a problem as anyone who spots the app will want to play this game. Just make them play action until your quest is over, or you’ll lose your score!