Space-trippy iOS puzzler splices Bejewelled with Tetris

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Abantus Saga 2
Abantus Saga 2's sliding mechanics are deceptively simple.
Screenshot: Evan Killham/Cult of Mac

You’d be forgiven if you took one look at Abantus Saga 2 and confused it for yet another tedious match-three game. But if you can get over your prejudice, you’re in for hours of enjoyment. And some frustration. But mostly enjoyment.

The puzzle title, which is out now for free in the iOS App Store, has you sliding around colored and patterned “cubes” (they’re squares, but the on-screen text calls them cubes) to complete full rows and columns. And that’s it — that’s the only mechanic. But what the developer does with it will have you playing and replaying Abantus Saga 2 for hours on end.

Each level offers a different objective that shows up in the upper-left corner of the board. Sometimes you must clear a specific number of blocks. In other levels, you might have to reach a certain score.

You’re up against either a time or a move limit, and even beyond those traditional constraints, you have an invisible completion limit that shows up as a percentage once you clear the stage. I wasn’t sure how it worked, so I had to ask the game’s creator, Olivér Papp.

Papp told me each level of Abantus Saga 2 contains a “silence limit” based on how well you do. So if you have 100 moves to complete one stage, you might need to do it in under 30 to get a 100 percent rating.

And that leads to a small issue: You never know how well you’ve done until the game tells you. I was getting 100 percent on some levels and 19 percent on others, and it wasn’t immediately apparent why. But you’d better believe I had to turn those 19s into 100s, so I kept playing and hoping that I’d come out ahead of whatever obscure bar the level had set for me.

By the way, if you’re going to play Abantus Saga 2, you should get used to the music you hear in the gameplay video above, because it plays throughout. But it provides a meditative enough backdrop that it isn’t super-distracting. It’s like gentle, sedate beatboxing just urging you on.

Basic gameplay involves sliding rows and columns around, and pieces wrap around to the opposite side when you push them offscreen, Pac-Man-style. I liked the simplicity, especially after the original Abantus Saga‘s multiple mechanics of looking for both lines and squares. Keeping puzzles limited to one this time around is a welcome streamlining.

Abantus Saga 2 takes that one idea and remixes it to great effect. If you’re tired of swapping gems or pies or whatever and want to try something different, this one definitely belongs on your iOS device.

Download: Abantus Saga 2 (free in the App Store)