Plex feels old and new at the same time. This 3D puzzle game asks you to drop coloured tiles onto other tiles, and if the colours match (either horizontally or vertically), the tiles are destroyed. A simple principle, but once you wrap it around a globe, throw in some 3D graphics, and some very smart design, you have one of the best tile based games I've found on Windows Phone.
Version Reviewed: 188.8.131.52
The thing that gets me about Plex is that it feels like a genre that I have played before - but two unique twists mean I can't rely on any natural reactions to play this game. I'm having to build up a new skill set in recognition, in moving, in pattern matching, and in tactics to play the game successfully. This is the best of both worlds, mixing an old idea with new presentation.
The first obvious twist is that this isn't a square grid - the tiles you have to clear are wrapped around a sphere-like construction. You can't see all of this in one go, so there's lots of spinning the globe around to see different areas and try and work out what will happen next. Building up a mental map of the game area is a task in itself.
Movement is easy, with a flick of the finger spinning the globe in that direction - nice and natural. You'll have a highlighted hexagon always in the middle of the screen, with the two buttons at the bottom of the screen allowing you to turn this 2x2 sided hexagon (err, with two hexagons or pentagons on each side, depending on which part of the globe you looking at, so more 2x2x2x2x2...x2 I guess). Tap on the globe, and the next block in your stack will be dropped into play.
Once you've played a game or two, be sure to change the sensitivity of the movement - the coarse movement of spinning the globe works on most of them, but when it comes to getting the hexagon highlight in the right place, it can be a bit fiddly until you get the setting just right.
You do want to get this right, because this is a wonderful game, with the right balance of reactions, puzzles and planning. The various levels have different goals, clear the entire globe, find the letters P-L-E-X hidden under the tiles, clear a certain percentage of the globe; but these changes are subtle enough to not destroy the essence of the game, while still keeping things fresh as you play through. Throw in some power-up blocks for the classic arcade feel and you'll always have options and strategies to choose from.
As well as the level based "adventure" game, you have "survival" mode, which asks you to keep the height of the tiles under six tiles high. You might be making tiles vanish in the globe, but with a full blanket of tiles ready to drop as the timer runs out, you'll need to move fast to clear as many tiles as possible. Hit six high, and it's game over. Anything else, and you keep on playing.
All through Plex are touches that keep refreshing the game experience. It shows a lot of detailed designed touches have been worked into the code and Kalezo want to make a great game, rather than just churn out a quick hack of a game idea. The indie developers on Windows Phone are just as competent for this sort of game as for the title picked up for the Xbox Live branding. It's also worth pointing out there is a "lite" version of the game as the trial, rather than a "try" option on the full version.
Graphically, Plex looks great, with super smooth animation. It has a great UI and control mechanism and, while challenging to play, it doesn't have too high a difficulty curve. It's a strong recommendation from me to the gaming community on Windows Phone.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at