Unique puzzle games are becoming increasingly scarce yet Threes brings some much needed innovation to the genre. It's definitely one of those games that's hard to put down since the charming presentation and addictive gameplay will have you hooked from the second you start sliding those cute little tiles.
Threes is played by sliding numbered tiles around a four by four grid. All of the tiles will slide in the desired direction as soon as you make a move. Ones combine with twos to make threes and any tile that's a multiple of three will combine with a tile of the same number. For example, two sixes will become a twelve and two 48s will become a 96. A new tile gets added to the grid for every move you make and it's game over when the grid is full and you can't make any more moves. Your score grows exponentially the more large-numbered tiles you have by the end of each game. Two separate 48s will get you two thirds of the points that one 96 will get you, so it's important to make the largest tiles that you possibly can. Playing the game is incredibly simple and anyone can pick it up and instinctively know what to do within seconds. However, there is a tutorial that does an excellent job of teaching the basic mechanics as it gradually leads up to you playing by yourself. It's similar to when a parent lets go of their kid while learning how to ride a bike.
The way Threes presents itself goes above and beyond what you would expect. Every screen is minimalistic and easily read. Each tile is a living character with its own name and personality. As you create larger numbered tiles, you will unlock the corresponding character that you can check out from the main menu. The tiles have cute voices that will inform you if you take a long time to make a move or try to slide the tiles in a direction that they can't currently go. They also say hello when they appear and celebrate when tiles with the same number show up. Although their faces are tiny, you will see them animatedly express various emotions reflective of their individual personalities. The music adds even more charm to the experience with a chilled head-bopping jazzy tune that will get stuck in your head for days. The sound effect of sliding tiles is subtle and effective. Upon game over, your score is counted up in a brief and exciting sequence which ends in a confetti-filled celebratory display that will make you immediately want to play another game.
Threes only consists of one mode that you will play over and over again in order to get a high score. Although the lack of content is disappointing, getting a high score always feels rewarding. The main menu populates with results of your previous efforts in order of lowest to highest score which is quite enjoyable to browse through once in a while. You can also see where your highest score stands among the leaderboards and your friends. As you play, you will try different strategies of varying success. After a while, you will be impressed by how much your average score has grown since you started your tile-sliding journey.
While playing, you are presented with the colour of the tile that will appear next. Ones are blue, twos are red, threes are white, and larger tiles will be white with a plus sign on them. These tiles will appear along the opposite wall to the direction that you slid the tiles in. If there is only one empty spot along that wall, then the tile will appear there. However, if there are multiple empty spots then the tile will show up seemingly wherever it wants to. This may add to the overall difficulty, but it also causes frustration from time to time as you may count on the tile showing up where you need it to but it ends up in an unwanted spot. This doesn't happen often but when it does, it simply doesn't feel fair.
If you're looking for a simple pick-up-and-play puzzler to wind down with or take turns playing with friends then you can't go wrong with downloading Threes. But first, make sure that you're the kind of person who doesn't mind playing the same thing over and over again since that's all you'll be doing in this wonderfully charming and addictive tile-sliding game.
- + Gameplay is easy to understand
- + Incredibly charming presentation will attract an audience and keep a smile on your face
- + Getting high scores is very rewarding
- - Nothing to do except play the game over and over again to get high scores
- - Where the next tile will show up isn't always as predictable as you would hope