Prime Edition

TouchTone
Turn your phone into a superspy gadget
Amit Goyal  10th Apr 2015

Developer: mikengreg

Publisher: mikengreg

Platforms: iOS

Price: Rs 190

For all its bells and whistles and thrills and spills, the success of social media lies in its ability to cater to a deep rooted, yet vehemently denied need of all people: voyeurism. The power to spy on people without the usual real world consequences make it an instant hit. Though I will admit, Facebook is a very good birthday reminder.

But why are we talking about voyeurism in the first place? Because it sits at the center of the experience that is TouchTone, a grid-based puzzler with a story that takes hold of you and keeps you hooked throughout.

As a government agent, you are required to spy on people's emails and conversations and report any suspect activity. The game doesn't shy away from the fact that "suspect" is often a function of people's prejudice. In the tutorial phase, the game introduces you to its mechanics (we will come to that in a bit), and then asks you to mark the intercepted message as relevant or not depending on their content. A couple of college students talking about what could be drugs was too small to be considered relevant, but a conversation of a law firm piqued the interest of my handler.

When you move to your first case, that of an up and coming entrepreneur known as Samir Jilani, the option to mark any correspondence as non-pertinent is taken away entirely, bringing to fore a religious bias of your handler that hits too close to home.

The story of Sameer Jilani and his associates is the star of this game. As you learn more about his associates, Charlie Kemp, an ex-partner and a victim of his betrayal and Grant Morrison, the unscrupulous money-man who is willing to stoop to any depths to become the top dog of the investment world, you see the dark side of the world of startups and the investment firms. You'll root for Samir, hoping to prove your pompous handler wrong, and watch in dismay as he falls for the usual trappings employed by terrorists to brainwash people. The solid story is also treated with a teasing narrative, which gives you just the right amount of information, while at the same time creating new threads that tug at your curiosity.

In order to unravel the story, you must solve a series of grid based puzzles that mimic the act of tapping into the suspect's communication. The game is presented in a six by seven grid, with coloured beams that originate from one of the sides. Your task is to guide these beams to their receptors by moving around reflectors on the grid. The level is complete when all the receptors are activated simultaneously.

Guiding these beams is the core of the gameplay. The initial puzzles are simple enough that are completing by arranging diagonal reflectors that change the path of the beam at an angle of 90 degrees. As you progress, you're introduced to new elements such as a splitter, which splits the beam into two moving at right angles from the original beam, and a convertor that changes the colour of the beam. Some puzzles can get fiendishly hard, but the game does a good job in always following those up with a couple of simple levels.

The overall minimal visual style also goes really well with the game. The one complaint I could levy with the game is the method in which the various panels are moved. You can drag and drop individual elements, but have to move the entire row or column of the grid up and down and bring them in position. Often, you figure out the solution but getting all the pieces in places is reduced to a tedious task.

If you get this game, though, you will find yourself putting up with this minor annoyance for everything else that the game does so well.

 
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