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Dots review: A simple game you can't stop playing

Dots is a good game for its easy learning curve, graphical simplicity, and musical sound effects as you furiously go for the high score.

Jason_Parker.jpg
Jason Parker
Jason_Parker.jpg

Jason Parker

Senior Editor / Reviews - Software

Jason Parker has been at CNET for nearly 15 years. He is the senior editor in charge of iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.

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Dots (iOS | Android) is a simple, yet very well-designed color-matching game that doesn't dazzle you with tons of features or game types, but is still incredibly addictive.

Dots (iOS)
8.4

Dots

The Good

<b>Dots</b> is easy to pick up and play, with excellent minimalist graphics and pitch-perfect audio to match the gameplay.

The Bad

There are no other game modes. There should be rewards for big chains of dots.

The Bottom Line

Dots may lack different game modes and other extras, but the core gameplay will keep you coming back for more.

The object of the game is simple: connect same-colored dots to clear them from an ever-refilling board to get the highest score possible in 1 minute. You do this by connecting as many dots as possible horizontally or vertically, and by making squares with your finger to make them disappear. Your score is counted by how many dots you eliminate in 60 seconds.

The game initially will remind you of Bejeweled, but with an elegant, minimalist graphical style. The all-white background makes the primary colors of the dots stand out. Simple bouncing animations as dots fall add to the overall feel, while musical notes chime with each extra dot you connect together in a chain.

Dots keeps the graphics simple (pictures)

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The key to getting big scores in Dots is a trick that you won't find in the app description or in the game: make squares. When you connect dots in the shape of a square it removes all of the dots of the same color and replaces the board with dots that are also not that color. In other words, making squares actually makes it easier to make more squares by removing colors from the board and giving you a higher concentration of the colors that are left over. I have to admit this little trick was lost on me when I initially wrote this review and it changes my view of the game entirely. Making squares becomes the primary mission in the game, so you'll constantly be scanning the board to set up squares.

As you complete games, the dots you have collected can be used to purchase one of three superpowers. A Time Stop stops the clock for 5 seconds so you can add on to your score. The Shrinker lets you double-tap a dot to make it disappear, so -- with some planning -- you can set up squares by removing a dot that's in your way. The Expander is the most powerful of the three (and the most expensive at 5,000 dots), letting you choose one dot to remove all the dots of that color from the board. You can use the Expander and Time Stop super powers only once per round, but the Shrinker can be used as much as you want.

The ability to make squares for more points makes the game exciting as you desperately try to line dots up into squares, but I still think it needs something more. I think Dots could really benefit from some sort of bonus for connecting large numbers of dots in one move. As it is, you score exactly as many points as the number of dots you connect in a line so even if you get 6 dots in a row, you'll still only score 6 points. In other words, maybe some sort of reward for going after the big chains would make it even more exciting.

Dots would also benefit from more game modes. The core game is very addictive, but with a little more variation I think it would keep the game interesting even longer.

Overall, Dots is a great game for its easy learning curve, graphical simplicity, and musical sounds as you furiously play again and again to go for the high score.

Dots (iOS)
8.4

Dots

Score Breakdown

Setup 9Features 8Interface 9Performance 9