If I told you I was addicted to doing lines, would you judge me? Of course I’m talking about playing Unium by Kittehface Studios, a recently greenlit puzzle game available on Steam that takes the very simple concept of drawing lines and turns it into an enjoyable brain-twisting exercise. With its minimalist aesthetic, great music and sound design, and endlessly challenging puzzles, Unium is a real pleasure to play.
Simplicity & Complexity
Unium challenges you to trace lines across black, white, and neutral tiles in order to flip all the black tiles to white. Simple, right? Well things get a little more complicated than you would think. While the first levels will have you scoffing at how easy they are, you will quickly run into increasingly complex puzzles that don’t have immediate solutions.
One thing you should be mentally prepared for as you advance in Unium is to have an amazing solution for a puzzle that leaves one… friggin… tile… left… that is impossible to reach, forcing you to retrace your steps all the way back to the beginning to try a new approach. Of course as the difficulty increases, so does your sense of achievement for finally figuring out the meandering path to victory.
The only gripe I have with the challenge curve of Unium is that through Medium difficulty, I noticed that some levels would take me 5-10 minutes to complete, and then the next 3 levels in a row would be easily solved first try in under 30 seconds. This created a somewhat disjointed experience, as I wasn’t quite sure if I was really sucking at certain levels or really excelling at the fast ones. However, this is understandable and hard to avoid in a game like Unium where most of the puzzles can be solved in multiple ways, and sometimes you’ll just get lucky by happening into the correct solution right away.
A Polished Presentation
The graphics, sound, music and controls in Unium are all very refined and intuitive, making it not just easy to draw and erase lines, but downright enjoyable. The tiles give satisfying little blip noises when they are flipped, and increase in pitch when done in rapid succession. The music by Mathijs Wiermans is just phenomenal, being gentle, spacey, cerebral, and just the right amount of repetitive to be the perfect sonic background for the intense spatial visualization needed to solve puzzles. Just listening to the music without even playing the game makes you feel like you are getting smarter, and that is quite a feat for the musicians and game designers.
All in all, Unium is a great little puzzle game with a tiny price tag and a real depth of polish and challenge. Dedicated players will find plenty of mind-bending content to dig in to in the Advanced difficulty level and by achievement-hunting, which sometimes has you re-solve puzzles in different ways. The developers are also making steady updates and will likely continue to release more advanced levels as time goes on. For what it sets out to do, Unium really hits its mark.