Taptiles Saga review
Taptiles Saga is a Facebook game from Arkadium. It’s available now for anyone to play on the social network, and is receiving regular promotion via sidebar ads in App Center.
Taptiles Saga is essentially a three-dimensional take on mahjong solitaire, with cubic tiles stacked in a tower-like arrangement rather than a flat design with tiles stacked atop each other as in conventional mahjong solitaire. This means that the arrangement can be rotated and viewed from four different angles rather than the top-down view of regular mahjong solitaire. This would actually be a pretty original concept for a puzzle game were it not for the fact that this is now the seventh time Arkadium has used this exact game mechanic across all platforms, and the second time it has used it on Facebook. Still, in a world drowning in Bejeweled-inspired match-3 games and bubble shooters, any game that breaks from the “norm” is worthy of note, regardless of whether the developer has done it before.
Basic gameplay in Taptiles Saga requires players to match pairs of cubic tiles that bear the same symbol. Like in mahjong solitaire, tiles may only be removed if they are free to slide out of their arrangement and are not “blocked in” on two sides. As the player progresses through the game, additional types of tile start to show themselves, including dark magic blocks, which must be matched to clear chains off other blocks, and stone blocks which are unmovable except through use of a “pickaxe” powerup that costs soft currency to use.
The player progresses through a linear series of levels and follows a storyline as they continue to work their way through the game. Each level has its own objective, and there are several types — in timed levels, players have a set amount of time in which to clear the complete arrangement and score enough points to earn at least one “star”; in chain levels, there is no time limit, but the arrangement of tiles is such that there will be at least one group of symbols that can be matched over and over again in order to earn a large chain bonus; and logic levels have an arrangement of tiles that means there are only a limited number of ways to clear the complete puzzle.
Play is throttled through an energy system. Oddly, playing a single level costs more than one energy point — presumably to increase the amount of time it takes for the player to “recharge” if they run out — but the player is often rewarded with energy upon successful completion of a level, making it act more like the lives system seen in a lot of King’s puzzle games. Further monetization comes from the game’s soft currency, which can be used to purchase various boosters at the start of each level once a particular progress milestone has been cleared, and from in-game powerups that charge the player directly for various benefits — the most powerful being the $1 “Gold Dust” powerup that turns all tiles into the same “gold” blocks and means they can all be matched with each other, regardless of what symbol they originally bore.
Taptiles Saga is a beautifully-presented game, with excellent graphics, a non-sexualized female main character, an inoffensive (if largely unnecessary) plot and some quality background music. The gameplay, as with most puzzle games, is somewhat repetitive after a while, but the different level types provide some variety, and the gradual pace at which new features, boosters and powerups are unlocked keeps things interesting. On the whole, it’s a decent Facebook game that deserves to enjoy some success.
Taptiles Saga currently occupies the 100,000+ MAU tier with a rank of 2,099 and the 10,000+ DAU tier with a rank of 2,108. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social games and developers.
A fun take on mahjong solitaire, and a well-presented game to boot.