The classic sliding puzzle, or fifteen puzzle, is a remarkably old game. Dating back to the late 19th century, this game has been a staple in the puzzle world for over a century, in every form from wooden tiles in a frame to LCDs on a battery-operated toy to the current pixellated gaming world.
In fact, the game has been the subject of mathematical theorems and treatises on the permutations that can be solved and cannot, even spawning a formula or two to describe it’s completion.
Concept and Functionality
There are no shortage of sliding puzzles available in the Play Store. In this regard, this game plays out no differently – swipe a number from its cell to the empty adjacent cell and continue to do so to rearrange the numbers around the board in consecutive ascending order, from smallest to largest, left to right, and top to bottom.
Knotty Numbers distinguishes itself, however, by skipping the traditional one-through-fifteen layout and instead giving a random selection of numbers from 1 to 99. While this may seem like a simple change, more than once we found ourselves doing some quick mental math to make sure we were aligning the numbers properly. It’s a subtle twist on the classic formula that adds a surprising amount of complexity to the game.
The game offers three difficulty levels which take the form of a 3×3 grid, a 4×4 grid, and a 5×5 grid. As anyone would expect, each higher difficulty level makes the game more difficult to complete but the real challenge kicks in because of the numbering system.
Keeping track of the numerical order of eight tiles isn’t that difficult in the 3×3 grid, but keeping track of 15 or 24 is remarkably difficult, making this a true challenge.
It took nearly 10 minutes to complete the 3×3 grid (and we play a lot of puzzle games!) but after 20 minutes in the 4×4 we had to give our brains a rest.
You can track your progress and challenge yourself using three different modes. The standard mode is a moves challenge which pits you against a specified number of swipes to complete the game.
Next comes a time challenge which gives you unlimited swipes but a time limit in seconds to finish. There is also a mode without either challenge which allows you to complete the game at your pace.
The game offers a few theme options that change the color pattern but don’t impact the play and there is a top scores feature which tracks how frequently, efficiently, and quickly you’ve completed the game.
Knotty Numbers takes a time-tested game and adds a layer of complexity that is actually refreshing.
The game’s visuals leave a little to be desired and a coat of polish would go a long way to making this one really stand out in the crowd. We’re hoping more people will find this gem and arrange some time to give it a try.
Knotty Numbers is available from Google Play and also from the Amazon App Store.
Knotty Numbers requires Android 2.3+. A small expedite fee was paid to speed up the publication of this review.
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