Primrose Review

Puzzles, puzzles, everywhere, and many of them stink.

Earlier this week I reviewed Ancient Frog, a stand out puzzle game. Today I take a look at Primrose. The description from the author describes this game best:

A captivating tile-clearing puzzle game by award-winning independent designer Jason Rohrer.

If you find the crowd of copycat match-3 games to be mindless and boring…

If you’re looking for an elegant, deep puzzle game that’s completely fresh…

Then you should take a look at Primrose, which you can test for free (full version) on Mac, Windows, and GNU/Linux here:

872239_5Primrose’s gameplay is deceptively simple: You’re given random pairs of colored tiles that you must place on a 7×7 grid. When you surround a group of one color with another color, the surrounded group clears, scoring points. The surrounding tiles flip to the color of the tiles that were cleared. When tiles flip color, chain reactions are possible. Larger groups and longer chain reactions are awarded more points.

As the game progresses, more colors are added to the pool, making the grid more and more constrained. Pressure builds until the grid finally fills up, and the game ends.

Despite this mounting pressure, the game doesn’t have a frantic feel, because you have as much time as you want to make each move. Whereas games like Tetris depend on getting faster and faster to be challenging, Primrose derives deep challenge from inherent properties of its mechanics.

The words elegant and deep are great when talking about Primrose. It’s rare to find an original puzzle game with so much long lasting appeal. Primrose will keep you challenged for a long time. In fact it definitely has the stuff to become a new puzzle classic. One unique feature that stands out is the leaderboard. When you see a high score you can choose to play through it and see how that player did it.

872239The graphics are understated and retro. It reminds me of the old Apple green screen, or giant mainframe computers. This is mirrored in the simple computer tones used when you make a move. The experience is mesmerizing.

Primrose is deep, maybe too deep for the casual gamer. I think this game is more suited to those who are looking for a serious puzzle game. A game like Ancient Frog is great for casual gamers, but it’s more a game of trial and error, where Primrose requires some serious strategy and adaptability. It really takes some brains to get a high score with this game.

Presentation & Graphics
The art style is good, but I don’t think it’s perfectly suited to the game. In chess I like the details and texture in the pieces and the board. They add interest as you study the board and play long games. The graphics are a little to simplistic for the meditative play style. So although they are good retro graphics, they can get boring in long sessions.

872239_2The sound effects are clear and good, but a bit minimal. The sound gets extra points for not stopping your iPod music when you start the game.

Primrose is a stand-out puzzler. It doesn’t have a lot of flash, but it doesn’t really need it to be a good challenge.

Primrose is a compelling puzzle game, with plenty of life. You can keep going back forever. I take points away for the experience, because it’s so sterile, it’s hard to want to play for long sessions.

Game Rating
Primrose is a very strong puzzle game, but I’m afraid it’s not for everyone. If your not up for a challenge, the game will become boring quickly. For those with strong puzzle skills, Primrose can give you the challenge you are looking for.

Primrose ($2.99)

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  • iPGN-Dave

    Not for the weak at heart.


    Well I better not get it than.