Mike Schramm writes about technology and games for Joystiq and TUAW during the week. He’s also a pretty decent guy. He also finds it fun to code on the weekends. I know, it makes no sense to me, either.
Schramm has just released his second iOS game to the iTunes app store, and it’s called Benediction. Actually, the full name is Benediction – a game by Mike Schramm, a name most likely necessitated by the many other apps out there with a version of the word ‘benediction’ in the title.
Benediction has three things going for it. Those three things got me to download the game, then play the game, then continue playing the game until I was forced to set my iPhone down and actually do some work. This is a great game, and you’ll be sad if you don’t check it out for yourself.
As a full disclosure, I’ve met Mike and think he’s a nice guy. If the game sucked, however, I would have played it and quietly not written about it. Lucky for all of us, the game has that “stickiness” that all games want to have.
The reason, it turns out, may have a lot to do with those three things I mention above.
Benediction is a clean game. I’m not talking about the morality of the game, but it’s simplicity of purpose. According to Schramm’s blog post on the development of the game, his goal was to make a match-three, simple game and put some RPG-style level progression in it. This clarity of focus is one reason the game has kept me playing, of course. Tapping smiley faces of a certain color clears all the adjoining faces of the same color from the board, and then more smiley faces drop down to fill the board. It feels strategic without actually being that strategic.
Secondly, the narrative framing the game is what got me to download it in the first place. Read it and tell me you’re not intrigued, even just a little. This is the narrative of an artist, bringing issues from his own life into his work. Well done, I say.
In Benediction, you play as God (or just a god), answering the prayers of supplicants. Blue supplicants are unhappy because they want faith, something to believe in a cruel world. Purple supplicants are lonely — they need others like them to love. Green supplicants have prayers of wanting, of material and physical needs. And yellow supplicants seek actual miracles, that elusive proof of the unreal.
Finally, there’s a progression mechanic in the game. Each game has a limited amount of “god power,” which gets used up each tap. The idea is to make your taps, which use up this energy source, clear the most amount of smiley faces as possible, maximizing your score. As you earn points for each game, they add up and can be traded for power ups, also connected to the four different colors in the game, which do some neat things like double your scored points, drop single colors down from the top, or recharge your god power.
I couldn’t stop playing, tapping at the screen. It’s satisfying enough to clear the screen in the most efficient way possible, of course, but the lore of answering prayers, and the level progression of buying better and more effective power ups is as motivating as any other more complex game I’ve played.
If you get a chance this weekend, download the game from the app store and see what you think. I’m willing to bet, even if the religious lore narrative doesn’t get you, the color matching, screen clearing, and progression mechanics will.
- Source iTunes App Store