There are so many tried and true puzzle formats that lose the essence of puzzles by lacking in the challenge factor. Strata is a new brain teasing puzzle game that is unlike anything else by focusing on creating cross-stitches of various colors. Each level is set-up with a grid that requires certain colors, and you need to send a colored strand across each row and column. Your goal is to have the second color ribbon match the color of the square below it across the entire grid. It’s essentially a weaving puzzle game that really couldn’t be easier to understand with the smooth tutorial, and then the game just branches out from there.
Strata features hundreds of levels that keep increasing the size of the grid with 2×2, 3×3, 4×4, etc, and then introduces more colors to contend with. The interface is absolutely phenomenal as the menu blends into the gameplay with just a tap on a ribbon to move to the next set of puzzles, and another tap to send a ribbon out on to the grid. There’s just such a high degree of polish to each element, and it’s quite extraordinary to see the puzzle solutions come together with the colored cross stitched result. Every level is about figuring out the order with which you lay down the ribbons as you try to make a base first as the top layer is the one that sets the color for a square. The most surprising aspect is how intuitive the cross stitching, and layering aspect becomes allowing you to focus on the order in which you send out the ribbons in particular rows and columns.
Everything is designed very well to keep you immersed in the challenge, and just stringing together new levels. There’s also the ability to perfect levels by not recalling any ribbon, but on the flip side, the game lets you undo every move as you try to work out a solution. One other neat aspect is that the sound effects are tied to your performance, and you can understand success and failure based on the audio cues, just like the visual cues. It’s a whole new experience that is accessible for all ages, and then the difficulty curve is perfectly balanced to never be too hard or easy, and instead just keeps inviting you to play more.
Strata ($0.99, Universal) weaves one excellent iOS puzzle experience that is a must buy with some of the best puzzles on iOS, or anywhere.