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App of the week: Blask review

It’s all done with mirrors! Send lasers to targets in this mix of lightshow and tactile puzzler

Games where you deflect lasers are nothing new. I’m old enough to remember Deflektor, a C64 game from 1987 where you rotated mirrors to direct beams at spherical cells that (for some reason) very much needed to be blown to bits. Like similar titles from the time, it was stiff and dull. Blask, though, showcases how a good concept is often only waiting for the right execution.

The main twist here is that levels are hacked up into shapes, which you drag and twiddle on the touchscreen. It all feels nicely tactile as you figure out all the bits you have to play with, separating various components, lasers spanging about within their suddenly claustrophobic confines. You then work to align and merge shapes, putting everything back together again in a manner that directs all the laser beams at their targets.

Early on, you’re more or less in tutorial mode, as Blask shows you how everything works. You’re first taught how to move a single block to create a clear path from a laser emitter to a target, and then you get a shape you have to rotate and connect to another. Easy.

Puzzle pieces

Gradually, new components are added to the mix. You end up faced with lasers of varying colours, with red, yellow and blue ones, respectively, bouncing off of surfaces up to once, twice or three times before being absorbed.

Chunks of the puzzle are sometimes relieved of their freedom by being nailed to the screen and thereby only pivoting about a point – or not moving at all. Prisms further complicate matters, unhelpfully splitting laser beams apart to create the kind of multicoloured lightshow that’d make Jean Michel Jarre coo, but that’ll cause your brain to boil.

Finding your way to a solution is an odd mix of planning and luck. Sometimes, you will figure everything out surprisingly quickly, even when quite a few puzzle elements are scattered about the place. Mostly, though, this is an immersive, organic experience that encourages experimentation.

Las-argh

Given that small changes to your set-up can obliterate carefully laid plans to that point, lasers suddenly spewing all over the place, it pays to be careful. A few dozen levels in, Blask almost feels like safecracking, as you make the subtlest of changes, and rejig a few other elements to make all the beams hit their targets.

Occasionally, you’ll feel it’s the game that lets you down, though, rather than your brainpower and dexterity. On iPhone in particular, the smaller nature of the screen requires you have delicate fingers and plenty of patience. Even on iPad, it’s sometimes a bit too easy to nudge the wrong piece, the game not reading your mind about which one you wanted to grab – but also not providing a clear interface to let you choose.

Still, these are minor niggles about a game you shouldn’t need to reflect on regarding whether it’s worth a couple of quid, because it very much is.

Blask is available for iOS. An Android version is in development. The game has also been released for Steam (Windows only).

Stuff Says…

Score: 4/5

A dazzling puzzler that only really makes sense on a touchscreen

Good Stuff

Wonderfully tactile touchscreen play

Immediate but challenging

Plenty of variety in the puzzles

Bad Stuff

Soundtrack is a bit dull

Can be fiddly on a smaller screen

Level selection is tedious

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