Puzzle games are always a good bet for a mobile title. Small time wasters that you can play while you’re waiting for a bus, or killing time while a loved-one gets ready to go out are the kind of thing that translate to the small-screen very well. So it’s no surprise to see that there’s a slew of them available on iOS and Android nowadays. Today, I’ll be looking at one such title from Dollsoft: Touch by Touch.
On looking at screenshots of the game, it looks a bit like the old arcade game Q*Bert, which I always enjoyed, so I was looking forward to a similar experience from Touch by Touch. As it turns out, the game is nothing like that older title at all, but in fact is more of a memory test using coloured squares.
The premise, like most good puzzle games, is simple: you’re presented with a range of grey cubes in a step-like formation. At the top sits you, and a computer-controlled opponent that you must defeat. The cubes will momentarily change colour, then go back to grey, and your task is to tap cubes of matching colours. They will then fly up the screen, smacking your opponent squarely in the face and reducing their health. Get that health down to zero and they will be replaced by a new foe, and so the cycle repeats. This goes on for 60 seconds, and you’re then presented with an overall score.
Initially, the game is quite fun to play. Unfortunately, that doesn’t last when you realise that there is only one level, and your only long-term goal is to beat a high score. To further exacerbate the negatives, the only way that you can significantly improve your high score is by levelling up your character so as to face higher level enemies. This, in turn, is only possible through obtaining “keys”, one of two in-game currencies.
In about three hours of playtime, I never once saw a key dropping from a cube like I did with coins, which you get a slow drip feed of. As a result, I never managed to level my character above level two. I did earn a level four character by tapping a “gift cube”, which you can do every 24 hours to get goodies, but that requires 1000 coins, so even that isn’t going to be happening too often unless you play all day or fork out money. It’s a particularly steep paywall and I wasn’t impressed with it. I'm not entirely against microtransactions, but this game takes it a little too far in my opinion.
The developers clearly don't speak English as a first language, as Touch by Touch is full of unusual sounding lines. As you start the game, it proudly proclaims “Dollsoft – I Love Doll”, which probably sounded much better before it was translated. They also aren’t quite sure what the game is called. The game start screen says Touch by Touch, on the Play Store it has the subtitle “Tap Clash Block” in the heading and then the name “touchbytouch tap clash craft block” in the description.
I also found some severe issues with the game being incredibly jittery on my Nexus 6P. I tried a different 6P with the same result, but my friend’s HTC M9 had no problems running the game so it’s a model-specific problem, but it’s something to be aware of if you have that model of phone. Whilst it doesn’t make the game unplayable, it makes it a much less enjoyable experience. Considering it wasn’t a particularly enjoyable experience in the first place, that doesn’t bode well.
It’s a shame that Touch by Touch isn’t a better game, as the concept is sound. The lack of variety, the poor translations, bugs and the overuse of microtransactions for progress all let it down so it’s ultimately just another entry in the great mobile shovelware tsunami.
The game is unenjoyable, but it works.
A complete omnishambles of a game. Could have been so much better but the hefty paywall, lack of variety, and abundance of bugs make it not worth bothering with. There are hundreds of better free-to-play puzzlers out there, play one of those instead.