Draw your way to success in Blek

This Bauhaus-inspired, gesture-based iPad game is beautifully minimal and quite excellently compelling.

Our favourite iOS games are the ones that can only really exist on a touchscreen format, and Blek is one such title. Deceptively minimal in its presentation, Blek is based around a delightfully simple premise: you draw a gesture and it repeats itself over and over, hopefully along a path that collects all of the coloured circles on the screen while avoiding the black ones.

That's all there is to it, and while the game eases you in fairly gently, matters soon become very complicated indeed, with you trying to pick your way through virtual minefields by finding just the right gesture to send on its way. Blek's designers stress that there are countless solutions for every level; it's just a matter of finding one using just the right mixture of logic and creativity. And also, we'd add, no small amount of luck in some cases.

Some levels demand little straight lines, some are best dealt with by drawing out spiky zigzags, and it's not too long before you find yourself confronted by levels that only really be completed by confidently drawing out unlikely alien script forms that swoop across the screen. It can be monumentally frustrating as you stare blankly at a new layout, trying to fathom a safe path through it; the best way to approach it is often to keep on doodling until you stumble across something that almost works, and then refine it.

It's a fab experiment in freeform gaming and minimal design, and the whole business of drawing out your gestures is a stroke of genius; especially the way in which the game records the speed at which you draw your gesture as well as the shape of it. It might not seem important but it becomes so on some levels in which, in an extra cruel twist on an already challenging game, timing becomes an issue.

Blek's been making us grin and swear in equal measure over the last few days; it's a great example of elegant, minimal design with a unique play mechanic that, if you have an iPad, you probably ought to try. Even if, at times, it'll make you very cross indeed.

Key info

  • Works with: iPad
  • Price: $2.99/£1.99
  • Developer: Denis Mikan
  • Version: 1.0
  • App size: 24.0MB
  • Age rating: 4+

Words: Jim McCauley

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