It seems like every year around this time — the down period between the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and Mobile World Congress in Barcelona — I find a new mobile game to consume my spare minutes and hours. In 2017, it was the dangerously involving Egg Inc., and this year it’s a beguilingly simple block puzzle title called Slidey.
Slidey is a member of the vast and diverse genre of games remixing the classic Tetris formula. You are faced with an endless supply of squares, which arrive in single, double, triple, or quadruple blocks, that you need to marshal into complete horizontal lines to delete them from your screen. The entire gameplay mechanic is, as the name suggests, sliding blocks left and right to make them fit together better. Everything rises up from the bottom and your goal is to accumulate the most points possible before you’re overwhelmed by the squares and they get gobbled up by the big mouth at the top.
Given the preponderance of puzzle games of this kind, why do I like this particular one? Well, Slidey has no time constraints and fits perfectly into my fragmented lifestyle. I can open it, perform a dozen moves, and then move on to doing something else. It doesn’t require a constant connection to the internet, either, so it’s a terrific boredom reliever on long flights — I used it to while away the majority of a 10-hour trip from Las Vegas to London.
There’s a surprising amount of depth and nuance to this game, whose difficulty escalates by feeding you a higher proportion of large and unwieldy blocks to coordinate. Some blocks are electrified, and when you clear them away they also take out any other blocks that touched them. Rationing your electric pieces and making sure you’re knocking out big quad shapes with them is a skill you develop over time. There’s also that quirky shaman figure at the top of the game screen — it will sometimes be willing to remove a block for you, which can often be a life saver. Even after weeks of playing, though, I can’t tell you what triggers the shaman to be cooperative.
But the truly rare thing about this time killer of a game is the sense of genuine progression and learning through practice. I initially had to reason through every move and anticipate the knock-on consequences, whereas now I can intuit the right moves quite quickly. With each level, your score per cleared block increases, and it’s incredibly satisfying to see a combo sequence result in some ridiculous x20 multiplier. The best way to sum up Slidey is that this game is richly addictive and rewarding.