App that makes you dotty (in a good way)

dots-and-co-2Pros: Lots of instruction. Simple design. Interesting levels.
Cons: In-app purchases.

Dots & Co
Cost: Free
Seller: Playdots, Inc.
Devices: iOS and Android
Rating: E for Everyone
Three stars

First impressions

Those of you who regularly read my App of the Week column may remember that a year or so ago, I wrote a review of a game known simply as Dots.

It was a timed affair, where you had to eliminate lines, squares or rectangles of the same colored dots as quickly as you could to gain a high score.

The creators of that same app clearly did not sit back and just reap the benefits of their wee success. No, they tried to find new ways to make the same concept more interesting by adding other elements to the design. The result was Two Dots, followed now by Dots & Co.

I was a big fan of the original Dots, even if it was in fits and starts. I would often take a break from the frustratingly addictive Candy Crush Soda Saga (I am presently at level 901 of that crack cocaine confectionery) to play Dots and soothe my soul. It therefore made sense for me to test out its sequel to see how it rated compared to the original.

How it works

Dots & Co starts off looking very much the same as its first version. You are presented with a series of dots in blue, pink, orange, black, and so on, in a grid system, and you’re shown by the app how to remove them. If you swipe across a line of them, those you swiped will disappear and be replaced by the ones above.

If, however, you find enough of them in a line and pattern to form a box, every dot of that color is removed from the playing board. This not only gives you extra points, it also means there’s more chance of forming boxes in the remaining colors due to one hue being eliminated.

You do not have to figure any of this out for yourself. Every time a new feature comes into play, the app demonstrates how to use it. Very helpful.

When you begin, you’ll meet “Emily, our intrepid adventurer.” Emily takes you through the earlier levels until you become comfortable with how the app works.

Once Emily leaves you on the path, you’re joined by “Anita, flightless yet fearless.” This is where the difficulty slowly ramps up.

You’re told that the triangle shaped pieces in play should be incorporated into your lines or boxes, as when a certain number are eliminated, a boost kicks in that removes a whole bunch of dots. This is particularly useful when your goal is to eliminate a number of each color in a limited amount of moves.

This is also a very positive app, heaping on the praise for completed levels, even when they were very simple. You’re asked if you’re a wizard because that was a “magical” performance, and so forth. If you’re feeling low about any recent accomplishments, Dots & Co will buck you up with accolades aplenty.

As you move along, further impediments are thrown into the mix, such as “ice” that you have to break, but you’re also given extra tools to help you eliminate more dots at a faster pace if you’re running out of moves.

This is a free app, but there are in-app purchases to be had if you start getting frustrated and simply cannot get past a level without extra help.

Something important to note: if you go into settings, you’ll see there is an option for those who are color blind. When activated, it changes the look and color of the dots to include unique shapes. Pretty neat and thoughtful inclusion!

dots-and-co-5When I played it

I really enjoy playing apps like Dots & Co where you do not have to follow a lot of dazzling tutorials, or worse, be left to your own devices. It’s not that the latter is not interesting, but sometimes you just want a simple game to entertain you.

I actually played it quite a lot on a recent flight to New York. Each time I opened my iPad, I went to it first, so clearly I was a fan.

I got well into the levels of breaking ice to spinning dots that changed the colors of those around them, to the spreading water levels.

I am presently at the stage where I’m not completing each level the first time around, so it is getting more difficult for me, but I’m not frustrated … yet.

Final thoughts

The Dots & Co app is not splitting the atom, but then that was part of its appeal. It has taken what was its first, simple, successful design and expanded upon it to make it more interesting, with extra features.

If you’re on a plane, stuck in a waiting room, or just cannot sleep, this app will help pass the time very nicely indeed.

Discover whether you’re an intrepid adventurer or flightless yet fearless as you try to conquer the dots.