Cyklus: That Amazing Puzzle Game You’ve Never Heard Of

A special note about this post: The following review is cross-posted from Gemakei. While a review copy was provided, the thoughts that follow are entirely my own.


Before I begin, I feel it is important to note that this review of Cyklus is based off playing it on an iPad 2. Cyklus is available for both Android and iOS alike and for both phones and tablets. From just looking at screenshots of Cyklus alone, it may look like “just another puzzle game”, but don’t let it fool you. Once you actually start playing, you might have a difficult time putting it down.

One of one-hundred levels in Cyklus.
Goal!

Cyklus’ controls are super simple, touch on the screen anywhere and drag in the direction you want to move. Your task is equally simple, avoid anything that looks like it will hurt (lasers, sliding walls, stationary walls you bump in to, etc), collect (or not) all the blue crystals and get to the goal as fast as possible. Based on how well you do all that, Cyklus displays a numerical score, score out of three stars, and level complete percentage. The level complete is the easiest to get a perfect score of 100% on, simply find all the crystals placed throughout the level before going through the goal, which is a swirling blue portal. Sounds easy, right? Not quite. Level difficulty increases as you move further into the game on a fair metric. The game doesn’t go from insanely easy to brutally difficult in just one level if you play the levels in order. That said, Cyklus does allow you to jump between levels you’ve cleared so if you want to try for a better score on a level, you can jump to that level.

Lasers are one of many things you’ll want to avoid in game.
Avoid these guys too. You’ll learn to check corners pretty quickly.

Neither the graphics nor music in Cyklus will blow you away, but honestly, I don’t think they should have to. Cyklus was built to be a puzzle game, not one that pushes the processing power of the device you play it on. Personally, I’m glad they don’t. There have been plenty of games out there that looked beautiful but sorely disappointed in basic gameplay aspects. As a puzzle game, I just want a good puzzle, and Cyklus definitely delivers. The only thing in regards to design in Cyklus that is not simple are the level designs. I’ve died plenty of times after collecting the last crystal but before reaching the goal – in some cases reaching the goal again, as some levels have multiple paths to the goal. I’ve played the last level of the first set several times now and I’ve yet to find the elusive last crystal.

Cyklus’ level select lets you replay any level you’ve unlocked at any time.
These sliding panels hurt a lot too. Beware of getting crushed.

There are, however, two things in Cyklus that I did find slightly annoying. First, while Cyklus has health, you do not have a health bar. Instead, as you take damage, your color turns more and more red. Unless you memorize the progression, there’s no way of telling just how many hits you have left until death. Second, getting hit brings you to a complete stand-still. If you want to move again, you’ll have to take your finger off the screen and drag in the direction you want to go again. While it is great at stopping you from being an idiot and constantly ramming into a wall, if it’s a sliding panel or laser that hits you, naturally you’ll want to run like hell out of there, but you have to start running again.

It’s only a flesh wound. I think.
Oof. That’s not a flesh wound anymore. Better grab a health dot to refill it all.

For those of you who like power-ups and achievements in your game, Cyklus has both. Power-ups you’ll find both scattered throughout levels and available for purchase from the store using the crystals you’ve collected. The power-ups are also logically named, no PHd in game terminology required: Speed, which looks like an arrow, makes you faster; Freeze, which looks like a snow flake, temporarily stops you from spinning (and yes, you are constantly spinning clockwise as you move and even stay still); and Divide, which is a division symbol, makes you smaller, just to name a few. Personally, I like to avoid Speed; it gives you a significant speed boost that makes it very easy to ram into things if you are not careful.

Complete a level to get your score and sometimes achievements. You can also share it.
Grab crystals for 100% completion and to trade in the store for power-ups.
Cyklus has achievements in both Game Center and OpenFeint, with the achievements the same in both.

Final Verdict: BUY

At only a buck for the full game, Cyklus will leave you with well over a couple of hours worth of playtime. Some of the later puzzles will truly challenge your ability to react quickly and carefully get through a tight squeeze before you spin into the walls. Based on the very small number of reviews in the App Store, Cyklus has gone mostly noticed, which is truly a shame. Plain and simple, Cyklus is a hidden gem among thousands of other games in the App Store. eastasiasoft has once again delivered a truly remarkable game with tremendous replay value for very little money.

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