There are many things I like about Dissembler. The game’s name, however, isn’t one of them. While the title’s meaning is certainly fitting, this is an app that looks like an escapee from Tate Modern, and Dissembler just sounds like the name of the weapon a supervillain would use to turn the Avengers against one another. A cunningly constructed device that simply shouts out things like, ‘Hey, Hulk, do you know Iron Man’s getting paid ten times as much as you to be here?’
Quibbles over nomenclature aside, the latest offering from eye-catching designer Ian MacLarty is a strikingly minimalist match 3 puzzle game that absorbs both the eyes and the intellect.
For anyone who takes even the slightest pleasure in precision and order, the color sorting here is soothingly satisfying.
Each of the 120+ challenges has been framed as a piece of abstract art that needs to be picked apart to progress. A multicolored arrangement of squares beaming out from a bright white canvas. Tiles can be swapped with adjacent ones above or below to the left or right. Make a group of three or more of the same shade and they disappear. The only catch is, every move must create a vanishing set in order for you to proceed.
For anyone who takes even the slightest pleasure in precision and order, the color sorting here is soothingly satisfying. A feeling accentuated by the mechanical whirring the tiles make when shifted and the comforting clicks as they slot into place. They are the soothing sounds of harmony being restored.
The entire game is a very mellow mental workout. Later levels cleverly add complexity by introducing dots that need to be matched up, immovable tiles and squares within squares, but there are only ever a finite number of permutations to each puzzle and the solutions can be achieved by lazily wafting through them. However, it’s much more rewarding to try and decipher the internal logic behind each one and retro-engineer your way to success, aided by a simple rewind button that allows you to undo your efforts one step at a time.
On top of the standard gameplay lie a fantastic selection of daily challenges, relaxed and hard infinite modes where the squares keep respawning until you’ve had enough and a color-blindness setting for those who struggle to tell their azure from their elbow.
Dissembler never drifts far from its central, simple idea of mixing colors to create a crafty puzzle pallet of differing hues. The underlying concept has been used a million times before, but not with the vibrancy and skill with which it’s done here. Which makes Dissembler something a little bit special. It’s managed to turn match 3 games into an art form.