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 [from] 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 keep my hands off it for days, and then I finally reached my goal. The rules are simple, as you only have to connect at least thirteen symbols with each other to initiate an explosion, causing the chain to be eliminated. A bond between two adjacent elements gets established either when they share at least the same shape or color. The game ends when at least one symbol gets over the top limit.

While that may sound like some pretty traditional tile-matching title, “bondstones !” actually has a lot more in store: Whenever a certain amount of objects vanishes from the field, you progress to a higher level. With each new stage, one of eight possible disadvantages gets randomly selected, making the game more challenging. For example, a new color or shape can get introduced, making it harder to create combinations. However, I personally find other disadvantages like the ‘foam’ much more stressful. Whenever this malus reaches you, googly-eyed symbols can appear from the ground and ruin your carefully designed lines. The ‘parasite’ handicap can also be mean, as it will let fall down one additional 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 submission. 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 execute 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 in this certain genre for me. [PLAY]