I am not a sudoku fan, but I have enjoy the odd numerical puzzle game such as KENKEN and to some extent even Numbrix. Now Str8ts comes along, and the buzz word is that it is a sudoku killer. Interested in such an idea I had to try it out.
Upon a quick glance Str8ts looks like a combination between sudoku and crossword puzzles. It is based on the same basic 9×9 grid used in sudoku, and use the same basic rule that the same number can’t appear more than once in each column or row. Other than that it is a completely new game with some unique mechanics to wrap your head around.
You have to make straights in all columns and rows. A straight is a series of numbers that have to include all numbers between the highest and lowest. For example: 1,3,2,4 and 7,5,8,6,9 are straights. A straight does not need to be in order but can be scrambled like in my examples. There are black spaces in every puzzle that contain hidden numbers, and those that contain visible numbers as well. You have to take those visible numbers in account as you can’t use that number again.
It took me quite a while to really crack the idea behind the game but once I did it has been fantastic. There is a tutorial but I found that a bit too informative to really understand. By playing a couple of puzzles I managed to get to grip with it all. The puzzles are really well made, and a lot of thinking is needed to plan ahead.
You input numbers by means of permanent numbers found beneath the puzzle. This works really well, even for my fat fingers. I have tried a lot of numerical games, and this is one of the better design choices. Beneath the numbers you have additional controls such as redo and undo, eraser and most notably check and notes. Notes let you put temporary numbers in when you have multiple contenders for the possible solution. Check is a button that lets you check to see if any number is wrong. As you can check how many times you like you might overuse this function. I would have liked to have some sort of limitation to number of uses. Maybe three times per puzzle or at least that it gets noted how many times you have used it.
Str8ts has got a really slick interface that feels really well though out. It is minimal yet it has got a distinctive character to it. The game loads up within seconds making it playable for very short sessions as well. You sadly don’t have any choice of themes or skins, which I would have liked. You can choose to play with numbers 1-9 or cards 6-A.
There are click sounds when you enter numbers but other than that the sound department is a bit lacking. No music but the game lets you play your own seamlessly. Then again music for a numerical puzzle game is hard to do right, and honestly I rather have my own music when playing KENKEN, Numbrix or any chess game.
With 751 puzzles divided into four levels of difficulty there is no lack of content. As you have to solve the current puzzle to progress to the next it will take at least a year if you beat two each day. In the reviewed version of Str8ts (1.3) there is no online functionality at all, and I would have liked to see some kind of leader board for each puzzle.
Str8ts is a great puzzler that is perfect for anyone looking for an alternative to sudoku, but I can also recommend it to those like me who aren’t into sudoku but still want a numerical puzzler to play. Solving a puzzle takes me about five to twenty minutes making it perfect to play while walking to work or waiting for the bus. According to the App Store page there is a lite version coming soon if you want to try before you buy.