Reiner Knizia must be one of the most prolific game designers on the planet. It seems like every week, a new abstract title bearing his name appears on the app store: usually a variation of his speciality color / shape matching style.
Mosaic from Aidem Media is the latest to appear. Purely abstract in nature, it is surrounded by some brief backstory of an underground struggle in the ‘City of Secrets’ between rats and frogs. This is pretty much irrelevant – once the intro is over, you’re in familiar Knizia territory of fiendish colored tile laying and matching.
Two modes of play are on offer, each with 18 levels of increasing difficulty. The first involves covering spaces on the playboard with your hand of tiles. Each tile consists of a pair of circles: each of a specific color (helpfully also marked with dots for those colorblind gamers out there). Each tile can therefore only be laid on a few spaces on the board: the skill comes in deducing which space to cover with each tile, without blocking yourself or running out of options.
The second mode is similar, but takes its cue from dominoes, forcing you to lay your tiles next to a previously played piece where the numbers must match. This adds an extra layer of complexity and challenge, and it would be advised to get comfortable with the slightly more forgiving laying mode first before stretching your grey cells to breaking point with the second.
That said, as the levels increase in both modes, things can get challenging quickly. In the easier stages, some tiles can only be laid in one position on the board. Placing these first can narrow down the options for the remaining tiles, and – by a process of logical elimination – the solution is eventually found. As the levels increase, the game becomes less forgiving, and often a ‘wrong’ move can cause problems several head-scratching minutes later, resulting in you unpicking your pieces and having to start again.
Mosaic is implemented well, with cheerful music and clear bright graphics which are large enough to remove confusion as to which tile you are selecting and playing with. The 36 levels on offer will provide a fair degree of challenge for most players: and it is likely that extra downloadable levels will be released for Mosaic masters if the game proves to be a success.
Mosaic isn’t Knizia’s deepest game, and it will only really appeal to the abstract logic and puzzle fans: but for those, the title is a challenging and involving game of matching and thinking ahead which manages to keep the right side of fiendishness without descending into frustration.
Score: 7/10Reiner Knizia's Mosaic,