So, stop the presses, we’re changing gears for a second. This is not to interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for today, my review of Flip City, but I wanted to get a chance to get on this while I was still thinking about it. I had the currently-unprecedented delight of being contacted by the folks at Digidiced about my review of Patchwork, and they suggested I check out their mobile version (and, full disclosure, provided a code for it, so obviously I checked it out). I figured since I’ve already written up my thought about Patchwork previously, I could write an abridged review (hence the #31.5) and just highlight the major differences between this and the physical version. Also, as a bonus, given the themeing of my WordPress as of when I wrote this, it should be permanently above Patchwork, which seems like a nice thematic link. Either way, should be a short read, by my standards.
So, there’s really no setup to speak of; just tap the app and you’re in. You’ll notice when you start up that you have a super cute splash screen (I changed my theme, so mine might be a bit different than the default), and once you’re in you’ll see the menu:
Letting you pick between a Local Game (just pass-and-play between you and a nearby friend or a computer), a Casual Game (played online, with friends you’ve added via the app), or a Ranked Game (play online, boost your ELO). So let’s play a game. If you choose a Local Game, you’ll see this:
And since I suck, let’s play on Easy:
Cool! And then we start. Like normal Patchwork, the gameplay is the same (and I’ve outlined rules and strategies in my review), so I won’t cover that here. You will notice that much is the same, though, from choosing pieces (you can tap one to select it, and it’ll have a glowing outline):
To placing a piece (buttons on the left rotate the piece, top-right flips it over, and bottom-right button confirms the placement).
The only major difference is that in order to “Pass” (to move ahead of your opponent and collect buttons), you need to swipe the button from left to right, along the track that says PASS (see picture above). Useful as an anti-player frustration feature, since that prevents you from accidentally passing your turn.
As in the board game proper, you play until you reach the center of the Time Board, at which point the game declares a winner:
And lets you see your blankets. Okay, maybe I’m a tiny bit better at the game than I had previously thought. Whatever, playing on Easy Mode. That’s how the basic game plays. Again, for strategy and other gameplay suggestions, check out my previous review of the physical Patchwork game. As far as the gameplay goes, nothing has changed. It’ll also send you push notifications when other players play, and each turn has a 24-hour time limit to make sure that people are actually actively playing.
There are a few other cool things, such as the online profiles:
Where you can see your friends, search for new friends, and check out stats about your gameplay (though I’m not 100% sure what the large, beckoning power button does). Overall, pretty neat. I can do one thing from my general review, style, and that’s:
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- It’s like $3. I know that’s easy for me to say since I didn’t pay for it, but normal Patchwork is like, $20, and this has push notifications. Clear upgrade.
- The computer player plays QUICKLY. You can finish a game in 10 minutes, if you want. It’s so nice!
- Having multiple difficulty levels is a very nice touch. It makes it easy to practice strategies and really cement your understanding of how to play by having more than one computer opponent, since I imagine if you didn’t have three levels you might find the computer either consistently too easy or too difficult depending on your skill.
- Cute aesthetic. They really managed to capture the theme of Patchwork well, in my opinion. Everything fits well, even the text.
- Good number of anti-frustration features. As I mentioned earlier, the swipe-to-pass thing is difficult to perform accidentally, which is nice. There’s also a cool feature that replays a player’s turn when you come back to the app via push notification, so you can see what a player did without having to try and remember / guess.
- Replays are neat. When you play online with a friend, it saves the replay of the game so you can go back and watch it later. Do I ever think I will? No. Is it a neat feature to have? Yes.
- No undo. For a game with this much strategy, the ability to request an undo if you accidentally say, hit the confirm button because you thought it was the “flip piece” button would be amazing. I think it might have cost me a game, but oh well.
- Some unclear interactions. For instance, I am unsure how to go back once I’ve selected a piece (before I’ve placed it), and I’m not convinced that’s possible despite being a thing I totally do in Patchwork when I’m looking at how pieces fit on the board. This means that once you touch a piece that you can buy (even accidentally), you’re locked in. Not necessarily good. Also, if you search for a friend and you don’t get any results, there’s no visual indicator that no results were found. This means that you’re not sure if it just hasn’t loaded yet or HAS loaded and found nothing.
- Difficult to tell what all the buttons do. For instance, how do you get out of this screen?
Unsure? Well, you have to hit the tiny cog (Settings, I assume), and get this menu:
And now what? Do you hit the X to close your current game? Or does that resign / forfeit? Turns out, the second button from the left (the Eject symbol) will take you back to the main menu, and the third button from the left (the list symbol) will take you to the list of games you’re currently playing. Not amazingly clear, unfortunately. But it seems like more of an aesthetic thing, so that’s why it’s in the Mehs.
- Concerning permissions requests (on Android, at least). So when you first see the app ask if it can modify data on your phone, check your contacts, and make and manage phone calls, you might spaz out. This is not really the developer’s fault, it’s more Android’s. They can’t explain why they’re making those requests when they ask you for permission, for some reason, but they explain what the permissions requests are on the app’s page:
“Permissions:Identity & Contacts: To access your google play account and enable online play. *We use Contacts: Find Accounts and not Contacts: Read your contacts*
Phone & Device ID & call information: To check the online status of the phone.
Photos/Media/Files & Storage: To save local games on the device.
Full Network Access: To enable online play.We do not access your call informations or any personal data.”
Just in case you were concerned.
- Actually, they fix most of the cons I thought Patchwork had. I really like that the “original” (default) scoring method shows you how deep you are in the red when you get started, and how you can always see the state of the game (how many points each player has) without having to tally it. That can be really helpful, especially as you’re playing the computer.
Additionally, since it’s not physical, they can just generate the patch layout randomly every time without you having to put in any effort! And, more entertainingly, the patches change designs every game, adding to the replay value (sort of; it just means you’ll always have a different blanket). It’s actually nice how a digital version fixes these things. Sure, it’s a bit more fun to sit with someone and play a physical version, but honestly this is a solid adaptation for digital — I expect to play it a lot on trains and planes and buses and stuff.
- That being said, it’s probably hard to play on a small phone. I’m using a Nexus 6 and it’s still a bit tiny at times. I imagine it’d probably fare better on tablets, but … meh. It still works on my phone; I just wouldn’t suggest it on a tiny phone.
Look, if you like Patchwork and have a mobile phone, get Patchwork The Game. That’s really all there is to say about this. It plays like Patchwork, it’s cute like Patchwork, and it has online play, ranked play, and pass-and-play. Sure it’s got a couple bugs / UI quirks, but honestly as a software engineer I’m actually surprised it doesn’t have more. Also, if you want, add me on there — I’m usually down for a quick game of Patchwork.