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Huebrix (Windows Phone) review: Deceptively simple, without being repetitive

The Good Huebrix offers hundreds of short, clever little puzzles that can soak up a few minutes or an entire afternoon, without relying on repetitive gameplay.

The Bad The music can be a little grating, and should you manage to complete every single puzzle the game has to offer, there's not much reason to come back.

The Bottom Line In Huebrix for Windows Phone, 2 bucks gets you over 400 clever puzzles in a minimalistic, well-polished game.


8.0 Overall

Huebrix is my favorite sort of puzzle game. There are no sums to calculate, or random bits to slide and match ad nauseam until you're too frustrated or bored to keep at it. Just you and a deceptively simple shtick that gets increasingly complex with every single level that's tossed your way. At $1.99 on the Windows Phone store it should also be an easy sell, provided you're into brain teasers.

You have to fill the box

Things start off fairly simple, but they won't stay that way for long. Screenshots by Nate Ralph/CNET

The Huebrix experience is summed up in its very first level. There's a numbered blue square sitting in a white box. As you drag the square, you'll notice two things: you're recoloring all of the white tiles in the box blue, and that number on the square is counting down. Once it hits zero, you're awarded a gold, silver, or bronze medal depending on how long you took to figure things out, and then sent along to the next level.

Simple, right? In the next level you're given a slightly bigger box, which requires dragging your shape out a bit -- anyone who's played the classic game Snake will be right at home here. The next level tosses a second color into the mix, so you'll learn to weave the two around each other. A few levels later gray blocks pop up that impede your progress, so you'll learn to navigate around them. Eventually you'll juggle four colors and gray blocks at the same time -- no sweat.

A Technicolor onion

And then things start to get a little tricky. You'll run into roadblocks that can only be crossed by a certain color, or symbols that force your little color stream to flow in a particular direction, or tiles that'll stop you in your tracks altogether; hit those last. And then you'll run across numbered plus and minus symbols, which increase and decrease your overall tile count, throwing that proverbial wrench into the works. And all the while a little timer is running in the top right corner of the screen, keeping tabs on how long it's taking you to solve a particular puzzle, and showing you what a competent time would look like. Better still are the cheeky notes of condolence or dismissal when you post a particularly bad time.

There is no lose, there is only snark. Screenshots by Nate Ralph/CNET

It's all very lovely, in its own way. As you drag your little color snakes into their final resting places, they coalesce into solid forms before slithering offscreen in a slick little animation. And here's the best part: after 30 puzzles spent learning by doing, you'll leave the starter area and reach the actual Huebrix experience.

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