Nov 18, 16
Dots! Dotsify

“Dots: Dotsify!” is a simple free to play mobile game developed by BapeGear. Its similar in structure to games like “Flappy Bird” and “Jetpack Joyride”; simple one-touch controls provide for quick learning. However, there are certain restrictions that come with simple gameplay, and “Dots” falls victim to some of those. It does manage to distinguish itself as a bright and colorful distraction, albeit one that struggles to hold your attention.

“Dots” is a simple game, with no narrative to speak of. At the main menu, you're greeted with a variety of buttons and options, but most of these are visual options or social media jumps. There's only two main game modes, “Classic” and “!Extreme!”, both of which play the same with slight variation. The game plays as such; you control a small dot that rotates around a larger circle. Tapping anywhere on screen ejects the dot away from the circle based on its position. Your goal is to link as many “dot jumps” as possible. It's a game that plays with your perception of angles, and is deceivingly hard.

The difference between “Classic” and “!Extreme!” mode is unfortunately singular. On “!Extreme!” mode, the circles rotate three times as fast. This makes it even more difficult to line up your shots. I played around with this faster mode, but found that “Classic” was the best option. “!Extreme!” is just too quick to make accurate shots, and is more frustrating than it is challenging. An addition of another mode with more noticeable changes would've gone a long way here.

Visually speaking, the game is crisp and runs well. Games based on timing and input need to be quick and responsive, and “Dots” does that well. The game rotates color palettes as you play, so you never are staring at the same set of colors for too long. This keeps the game from getting monotonous too quick, and it's a clever mechanic. On the audio side, there's not much to speak of. The background music is nice and relaxing, leaning more towards ambient than abrasive. A quick sound effect plays when restarting a game, but that's about it. There's nothing wrong with any of these sounds besides their lack of variation. Sound can be toggled on and off from the main menu and within game.

One of the biggest struggles with mobile games is keeping your player interested. It's the reason why you don't see anyone playing “Flappy Bird” today, but can still find people playing “Angry Birds”. “Dots” tries to keep players invested by using a collectible dots mechanic, implemented via unlocks and color schemes. You collect dots without trying; they float between the circles as you hop from one to the other. As you play normally you'll amass these dots without trying, and then can spend them in the shop. The shop offers two ways to spend your dots. You can equip new “skins” for your dot, and unlock new color schemes. Currently, there's only three additional color schemes and 58 skins to unlock. Skins cost upwards of 200 dots, which means either playing a bunch of games (or watching 10 ads) to get any customization. It's disappointing as well when the “skins” just add a small shape within the dot. It's neat, but not interesting enough to keep me wanting to unlock additional skins.

That's where “Dots” fails. It's a solid game design that encourages return play, but there's no system in place to reward it. Sure, you can get skins and colors, but they are barely noticeable and priced too high. A simple challenge mode would've stretched out the fun of this game for me, and I hope the developer eventually implements one. The game also does a good job limiting its micro transaction visibility. You can buy more dots for real money, but there's no reason to. The ads that pop up after losing a few lives are quick and can be skipped, so there's
nothing obnoxious there either.

Overall, “Dots” is an interesting game that is satisfying for quick play. You'll probably have fun challenging your friends to a high-score contest, but that's about it. The lack of variation or challenges gives me no incentive to keep playing, but it was fun while it held my attention, no matter how short.

Reviewed by Matt