Imp Paired iOS
As a long time App Store gamer, I have myself ever increasingly drawn to the allure of the puzzle game. Thankfully the App Store is one in which there is the increasing proliferation of such whimsical wonders. So when I was given the opportunity to indulge my whims in yet another puzzle game recently released on the AppStore, you could probably forgive my imp-ish excitement. Imp Paired is the brainchild of a former aspiring London-based architect, Nicholas Lister. Who having decided the career he spent years studying towards was more negative than relative to his life’s progression (resulting in a energy-draining bout of undiagnosed depression), he decided (with some friendly encouragement) to do something completely different, videogames. You have to give him credit, for his first attempt at creating a decent gaming experience he has done admirably. Imp Paired is an artful reimagining of the game Pairs, brought into the 21st century on your iOS device, or something to that effect. The premise is simple, but in this case simple works.
On each level you are tasked with matching different packages, some of these packages are distinguished from one another by patterns on the underside of each. It sounds fairly simple, but there are rules in place, which restrict the ease of progress. You are only allowed to select up to 4 packages at any one time, before they are all reset and you have to start again. This gets trickier and even tenser, as with each failure the timer goes down resulting in two more packages dropping onto the screen. You really have to be on the ball to ensure you don’t get penalised, it really is a test of your memory skills. There were some occasions when my hand-eye co-ordination went AWOL as I mindlessly tapped the wrong package, chastising myself as I foolishly brought on more unnecessary packages. To progress you have to match at least 7 pairs to be able to move on to the next level. Later on in the game you are only able to select 2 packages at any one time, utilising your memory here is key.
For a game which will be probably be played in sporadic bursts, such is the general gist with regards to mobile games, Imp Paired gets a lot right about the short, sharp gaming experience. But it also gets a fair amount wrong, the games levels are split with a storyline which I will be honest wasn’t hugely interesting, but for those looking for depth, cool… I guess. The problem is, this storyline and the subsequent breaks in game play present you with annoyingly non-skippable sequences. This is where the user interface and the touch tactility of the game fall down for me. Apart from the in game moments, you never really feel in control of what is happening and it would have been nice to be given the option to skip something which is more superfluous than an extension of a game defining experience.
Visually Imp Paired looks quite nice, displaying a visual look and charm of something that is almost a homage to the early era of PopCap games, simple cartoon styles melded with an intentionally simple user interface in the game itself. It does nothing especially groundbreaking to differentiate itself from what’s already out there. But that could seem a criticism, when it’s not really. Familiarity to people who only play iOS apps is a good thing to have and makes for a good user experience. There were a few instances where the game crashed on me inexplicably (replete with amusing error pop up), resulting in a complete iPad reboot. But it worked fine afterwards.
With regards to the audio, there is nothing really to mark this out from the crowd. The in-game music reminiscent of the background music you’d hear at a fairground or something of that ilk. It’s inoffensive, not at all intrusive, but I tend to mute most apps audio and listen to something else on most occasions. This is one of those.
There are a few game modes to entice the gamer to play longer than they would otherwise, the usual challenge modes as an aside to the main game, with a multiplayer mode that allows for two players at once. Again not groundbreaking stuff, but it’s nice that considerations for a social slant are made. It would have been good to see a leaderboard with speed challenges and the usual high-scores. But again, it’s not necessary in the grand scheme.
Bringing this all to a close, Imp Paired is not a bad game at all, for what it is… and it’s cheap. Coming in at 69p ($0.99 to the American readers), it’s not a bad price and certainly one that doesn’t ply you with useless IAP’s (in-app purchases) nor force you to grind to enjoy the game. It’s simple, quite fun and admirable for a first effort at a game as easily capable of occupying someone for a few hours. Sure it has it’s annoying niggles and moments of irritation, namely the between level story sequences. However, I would quite like to see what Mr Lister comes up with next. If you like Pairs give this a crack and see how you like it, it could well be a match made in heaven.