iTunes is full of match-3 games, but Chainz Galaxy offers match-3 gameplay of a decidedly different flavor. Instead of matching colored jewels or beads, Chainz Galaxy has you joining chain links, which sounds simple on the surface but changes the entire dynamic of how you play.
You’ll work your way through more than 80 total levels, linking chains to clear them from the board. At least three are required for a chain but if you have more than three in a row, you can link them all and rack up extra points. A meter on the right side of the screen shows how many links you’ve cleared, and how many more you need to finish the level. As you progress through the game, more and more new elements are gradually added, including additional colors and objects that can affect the game board in various ways.
There are collectibles to unlock and objects like bombs and snowflakes that can dramatically impact the way you link your chains. For example, the snowflake causes the entire board to freeze for ten seconds, but you can keep matching your links during that time, so that when the ten seconds is up and the board thaws, you could have set up a huge domino effect by linking numerous chains across the board. This effect does little to increase your point value any more than you would have scored had the board not been frozen, but it adds great value to the game’s fun factor; it’s just a blast to set up those chains and watch them fall.
There are also specialty chain links that will appear from time to time. A four-sided link lets you change the direction of your chains, or even link multiple-directional chains together. A multi-colored link will connect two links of any color together. But wise players will wait to put these links to good use when you have two chains of two different colors ready to be connected, because of course the more links you eliminate in a single move, the more points you score. It pays to play strategically.
A button at the screen’s bottom lets you scramble the board when you want to mix things up (although the game scrambles it for you automatically when you’ve run out of available moves). A meter adds available scrambles to your bank based on points and bonus objects you unlock.
There are four modes of play: Story, Arcade, Strategy, and Puzzle. Story is the simplest of the four, and the one you start with.Â The story in question concerns quirky on-screen characters called Ancients, who use the chains you link together to form a planet and populate it with oceans, animals, and structures. A number of cute cutscenes show the Ancients going about this massive undertaking.
In Story mode, there’s no timer; you play through the 50 Story levels at your leisure. The other three modes must be unlocked by first working your way through Story mode. Arcade adds the timer so you’re always fighting the clock; there are 15 of these levels. The nine Strategy mode levels test your skills at linking longer and more creative chains, and the ten Puzzle levels switch things up with a puzzling twist.
The $9.99 pricetag is a bit high compared to other match-3 iOS games, but Mumbo Jumbo Games has put a lot of love and care into polishing Chainz Galaxy. The easy-to-play, difficult-to-master nature of the game makes it incredibly addictive. You might think that a puzzle game with 80 levels might become repetitive or tedious after a while, but Chainz Galaxy is so well made, you’ll come back to its vibrant, enjoyable world again and again.