ScoreSpace x Alakajam!: bondstones !

“bondstones !” by Benjamin Soulé.

“Connect stones with the same shape or color. [Chains made from more than twelve] stones will [explode,] increasing score and experience[.] […] Each time you level up, a random malus is drawn in the list. Complete some specific conditions to increase your combo values.”

Ten thousand points – that was the score I wanted to achieve in “bondstones !”. This tile-matching game got me so hooked that I could not lay my hands off of it for days, and then I finally reached my goal. The rules are simple: You have to connect at least thirteen symbols with each other to initiate an explosion, that will erase all the combined elements. A bond between two adjacent elements gets established either when they share the same shape or color. The game ends when at least one symbol gets over the top limit.

Sounds like a pretty traditional tile-matching game to you, except for the length of a chain and the possibility to link two objects with the help of not only one, but two attributes? Do not worry, “bondstones !” has more in store what makes it an addictive gaming experience. Whenever a certain amount of objects got deleted from the game field, you will progress to a higher level. With each new stage one of eight possible disadvantages for you gets randomly selected, which will make the game more challenging.

For example, a new color or shape can get introduced, making it harder to create combinations between symbols. However, I personally find other disadvantages like the ‘foam’ much more stressful: Here symbols that look like googly eyes suddenly can appear from the ground, pushing your carefully designed lines a shade higher. The ‘parasite’ handicap can also be mean, as it will let fall down one random element after each of your turns.

While all these challenges make it already incredibly captivating, I also admire the well-designed, clever scoring system of this jam game. Many other tile-matching games make the mistake that they value combo streaks way too much, as it often happens that you as a player do not really plan for those streaks and get rewarded for a pure coincidence. Here it is quite different, as the game challenges you to fulfill a full duty, which consists of three different symbols that have to appear in your chain to be resolved. When you manage to do so, the amount of points for clearing the line will increase by one for each level you already passed successfully. That makes “bondstones !” a fantastic masterpiece in regards of game design for me, at least in this certain genre, so go on and study it yourself. [PLAY]