Take It Easy (iOS) review
Take It Easy is an iOS game from Ravensburger Digital. It’s available now from the App Store — its regular price is $1.99, but at the time of writing it is available for free as Apple’s App of the Week. The game has no additional in-app purchases.
Take It Easy is an adaptation of a board game that has been around since 1983, and has subsequently been expanded on by two slightly more complex quasi-sequels known as Take It Higher and Take It To The Limit. At heart, it is a simple mathematical puzzle game that can be played quickly by any number of players including solitaire, making it ideal for adaptation to mobile gaming.
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The basic gameplay of Take It Easy involves randomly drawing hexagonal tiles and placing them on a hexagonal grid made up of 19 smaller hexes. There are 27 different tiles available to the player, so not all of them will be used in a single game. Each tile features three colored lines, each of which is marked with a number. Vertical lines may have a value of 1, 5 or 9; diagonal lines running top-left to bottom-right may have a value of 3, 4 or 8; diagonal lines running bottom-left to top-right may have a value of 2, 6 or 7. The aim of the game is to score as many points as possible by laying tiles in such a manner as to create unbroken lines across the entire board. If a line is unbroken, it scores the number of points of all its constituent parts added together — for example, a five-tile vertical line made up of 9s will score a total of 45 points. The key to success is in placing tiles that will allow multiple lines in different directions to be completed simultaneously — there is a degree of luck in terms of the tiles that are drawn, but for the most part the game is a strategic, skilful one that rewards careful planning.
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The iOS version features a variety of different ways to play. In single-player mode, players may compete in “Classic” mode, where they must simply score as many points as possible using 19 of their 27 tiles; “Progressive” mode, in which the player is presented with a series of timed challenges in which they must attain a target score as quickly as possible; and “Puzzle” mode, in which all 19 tiles are already placed and the player must swap them around in order to fulfil various different conditions — achieving a total score, achieving a particular number of lines in a specific direction, making a pattern or incorporating a particular amount of a specific number into unbroken lines. In multiplayer, meanwhile, two players may compete against each other on a single device using a split-screen simultaneous play system, or up to four players may play together online using Game Center for matchmaking. Both multiplayer systems may be played in Classic or Puzzle mode.
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The game’s social features are limited to Game Center compatibility rather than connectivity with any external social networks. The Game Center support includes six different leaderboards tracking players’ best score or progress in the three different single-player modes as well as those who are “Masters” of each mode. Unfortunately, as per usual for Game Center leaderboards, these have already been hacked, meaning the upper echelons of all leaderboards are dominated by those with scores that are literally impossible to attain in the game — the maximum possible score one can attain in Classic mode is 307, while the top-ranked players on the Classic mode leaderboard all have a rather implausible 9,223,372,036,854,775,807 points. Fortunately, newer incarnations of Game Center feature separate Friends leaderboards, allowing just Game Center friends to compare their performance against each other and send challenges, but the fact that worldwide competition is made impossible by cheaters is always disappointing to see.
Take It Easy is an excellent game that deserves a place on every board and puzzle game fan’s iOS device. It’s all the more noteworthy for being an excellent mobile puzzle game that doesn’t rip off Bejeweled/Shariki, Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move or Diamond Dash/SameGame/Jawbreaker — something that is becoming an increasingly-rare occurrence these days — but is a deep, engaging experience in its own right friendly to both quick play sessions and more protracted competitive bouts between friends. It’s presented well, plays well on both the small screen of the iPhone and the larger screen of the iPad, and is a fine example of how to adapt a long-running and beloved board game to mobile platforms.
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An essential download for all puzzle game fans.