What if the Rubik’s Cube only had one side? It seems this question has kept the ironically named developers at CIRCLE Entertainment up all night, and those sleepless hours have resulted in a quality puzzle game that relaxes and taxes simultaneously. Wakedas is a straightforward affair that slowly ramps up the difficulty curve with measured predictability, ranging from super simple to mind-shatteringly complex without changing up the rules too much.
A grid of squares presents a problem, and you must solve it with your trusty stylus. Each space can be moved either horizontally or vertically, but not without dragging its entire column along for the ride; again, not dissimilar to a classic Rubik’s Cube. Unlike the time-honoured logic game, however, this single-sided surface loops in on itself, meaning you could pull a square off the left end and have it pop up on the right. The challenge manifests in forcing all of the mismatched colours to align without inadvertently shuffling around the squares that really ought to stay put.
The concept is immediately easy to grasp, and you’ll most likely blaze through the first page of puzzles without so much as a hiccup. Things begin to heat up when more colours are added, and in trickier formations to boot. Eventually multi-coloured squares will shake up your carefully laid plans, along with locked panels that can’t be budged and devious blocks that rotate with every move. When these gimmicks are used in tandem, plenty of time for head-scratching and copious uses of the undo button must be allowed.
Figuring out how to cleverly group tiles and then slide them apart — preferably with a master plan of some sort cooking — is a natural learning experience that requires a whole mess of thinking but zero tutorials. As the levels become harder, navigating the tricky patterns becomes more satisfying — and more frustrating. At some point futilely tugging the uncooperative collection of colors back and forth, level after level, might fray your nerves to dangerous levels, which is the best argument for short play sessions. Of course, it’ll take dozens of small sittings to complete all 300 stages, and there’s a good chance you’ll never make it that far in the first place.
You’ll not only unlock more levels as you progress, but there are two unlockable tiers to strive for, each one increasing the grid size and, thus, the challenge. Available stages can be played in any order, allowing you to skip over the particularly hair-tearing conundrums; these will pop up with increasing frequency. A rating system will grade you based on how many moves you had to take, which is a well-balanced incentive for maximizing your efficiency. Some levels can be dominated through sheer brute force, but eyeing your one-star rating for thirty-nine careless moves is enough to discourage that bad habit.
A Crayola palette will also encourage you to keep tapping away at the 3DS, accompanied by a soundtrack that embodies the act of chilling out. The top screen is dedicated to relaxing vistas animated with the occasional flock of balloons or silhouetted UFO to spice things up, taking care to sooth your eyeballs during stressful times. These sharp productions values aren’t especially impressive — or creative, for that matter — but they go beyond generic filler and actually add to the experience rather than detract.
Wakedas is a humble concept executed with talent. Of course, the spatial, colour-based puzzles use a very specific part of the brain, so make sure you’re in the market for a virtual Rubik’s Cube before hitting the download button. An affordable price tag gives the game an excuse for a bare-bones range of features, however, and you certainly won’t run out of levels any time soon. Most importantly, the question has been answered: a Rubik’s Cube with only one side can be pretty darn fun now and then.