Defused! is the first Marge Cube app I review on my blog. For those of you who don’t know, I got my Merge Cube by mail yesterday. There are so many unique and interesting apps for the Marge Cube that I couldn’t allow myself to not try it.
I was very excited to play games on the Merge Cube. I’ve already played a little bit yesterday, but that was just to taste what’s this Merge Cube is all about. This time, however, I am going full-in reviewing the game Defused! for Merge Cube.
What is Defused!?
Defused! is a bomb defusal game for the Merge Cube, part puzzle, part memory game. The reason why I’ve decided to make this one into my first review is that I love bomb defusal games. I’ve already reviewed an AR game called AR bomb Squad and really liked it. Now, the game is only playable using the Merge Cube accessory and I was playing it in the Phone mode, without the VR goggles, just so you know.
The idea of the game is simple. You are given instruction prior to starting the game and you need to execute them sequentially step by step. Some of the tasks can be switching certain switches/buttons/knobs on, typing a certain number on a digital keypad, cutting wires, etc.
The wires, switches and number input plates are scattered on the different facets of the cube and they change in each game. I think that the instructions are procedurally generated because each time you start the game from level 1 you get different instructions, same goes to the subsequent levels.
The player has a limited time to complete each level. The game deducts time if you wrongly interacted with one of the input parts, like turning on a switch that shouldn’t be turned on, etc.
It’s smart to inspect the different sides of the cube after reading the instructions and before starting the level. First, it gives you tome to memorize the instructions and the location of the different parts, so you know exactly which side to flip to first without losing precious time.
This game is very challenging, at least it was for me. My short time memory isn’t that great, even when I write a review sometimes I need to write down things just not to forget what I wanted to write about a few seconds ago, so for me, games like this are a nightmare.
Having said that, I really liked the design of the game. It’s simple, accessible as well as fun and challenging. When I played the first level for the first time, I actually wanted to turn on the switch using my finger. I was playing the game with the iPad sitting in on the plastic holder that came with the Merge Cube. I have my two hands available, but the thing is that first, you cannot see your finger on top of the virtual assets as it’s drawn on the screen, and second, you interact with the game using the iPad’s display. I know, it would be amazing if there was an option to make it work a different way, but that’s the limitation of the technology.
I found the controls to be kind of inaccurate, but this is obviously due to holding the Merge Cube with a single hand and needing good hand-eye coordination to move the cube and tap on the screen at the right place. I failed many times because I wasn’t able to quickly tap the numbers on the digital keypad. I tried moving the Merge Cube close to the iPad’s camera to make them larger, but if you move the Merge Cube too close, the overlay just disappeared. I just need to get used to the distance I need to keep the cube from my device, but overall it works well, just a bit clanky. Handling this with my fingers would have been a much better experience, who knows, maybe in Merge Cube 2.0.
There was also a bug where I couldn’t tap a number on the virtual digital keypad on the Cube and I hope that the developer is aware of that (if you are the developer, I have a recorded video of that part, I can send it to you).
The game is quite tricky. Sometimes you need to turn on switches for certain numbers. This can become tricky because when you rotate the cube, the number can face downwards, so a number 6 can look like number 9 and when a time ticks behind your back you can easily get confused and make the wrong move.
I did find the first levels of the game to be too difficult. I would have liked to have a less stiff difficulty curve. 80% of the time I failed in Leve 2. After some time I just stopped and wrote the instructions on paper so I can remember them, but even then, the inaccurate controls and the relatively lengthy instructions considering the time limit made me fail time after time. When you fail you start from the beginning. I personally would have preferred a more subtle gradual leveling with a checkpoint. So when I come back to the game the next day, I will be able to deal with the challenging level that I failed at. This is just how I prefer playing a game like this.
I really liked the tension of needing to solve the puzzles quickly before it blows up. There is also a very clear digital ticking sound to maintain this tension throughout the gameplay but also to notify the player before the bomb is about to explode. It worked well in AR Bomb Squad and it works beautifully in this game as well.
The graphics are nothing to write home about, but the Merge Cube “Magic” do his charm, especially for newcomers like myself whom this is their second game they played on the Merge Cube.
I still think that a simple design fits this game nicely. The black contrast the other bright and colorful parts nicely. The dark gray looking corners with the metal nails give the game a more serious look and also help maintains tension. Like you are not here to play with toys—this is a dangerous bomb you are holding in your hand. It helps to maintain a more pressing climate when playing the game. Same goes for the music, it’s all designed to make the player feel stressful and understand that there is no time to full around, a bomb is about to explode.
Playing This Game with the Merge Cube
Yesterday I said that I want my hype to sink in so I can accurately assess the AR experience of the Merge Cube. Of course, it takes more experiences for me to conclude whether this is a great AR accessory or not.
As of the time being, I really enjoy it as it is a new AR experience that I didn’t have a chance to experience yet. It feels fresh, interesting and help promotes innovative gameplay ideas that developers might wouldn’t think about otherwise. The Merge Cube opens up a world for new creative ideas and this is one of the best things that I like about it.
I find the controls to be a little bit annoying like the game needed an electronic stabilization to stabilize that center dot so it won’t shake all the time. Of course, I can only blame my shaky hand for this, but I’m sure I am not the only one who experiences that. Now it wasn’t a problem is the controls weren’t so crowded. The reason for the tight interactive controls in the game is because of the Merge Cube small size. There are no multiple Merge Cube sizes, just one size. Aside from Merge trying to make a one-size-fits-all product, the cube has to be relatively small so it’s comfortable rotate it with one hand and interact with it with the other hand through the mobile device.
It’s up to the developer to create experiences that take those limitations into account. I think that in many ways it worked well and this promotes a more challenging gameplay experience in this particular game. I’m sure after playing with the Merge Cube more, those muscles that probably didn’t work hard before will get stronger and I my hand will get less shaky
Defused! for Merge Cube is a fun and very challenging game. Don’t let the simple controls fool you, once the clock starts ticking, the atmosphere changes completely and you start feeling the excitement.
For me, the controls felt a bit inconvenient, especially when it came to pressing the number on the digital Typepad on the cube. I also think the developer should have made the leveling difficulty more gradual and less steep. I really don’t want to take a paper to write those tasks down. The second level felt like a level 10 for me. Having said that, it can serve as a good exercise to sharpen my memory—I actually really need it.
The game requires fast rotation of the cube in one-hand. Although I personally find the Merge Cube to fit perfectly in my Palm of my hand, others might find the fast-rotation gameplay to be tedious.
I really enjoyed playing Defused! for Merge Cube, it’s fun defusing a bomb while holding and feeling it in your own hand. It’s a game that also serves as a good memory exercise so I can see a double value in it—Recommended!
Download Defused! for Merge Cube from the App Store here.
You can buy the Merge Cube from Amazon.com here.