Are you in the mood for some good old fashioned block dropping puzzle action? If so then we have a review for you. DownFall is a retro-looking Columns clone that adds a few novel twists to the tried and tested genre. On first impressions DownFall appears to be just another Columns clone, in some ways it is, in some ways it is more limited, and in other ways it is a lot more.
Just as with other games of its genre, the object of the game is to slide falling blocks into place and have them disappear by matching like colours. The less effective the matching, the more they'll stack up, until the stack is too high and it's game over.
Each block is made up of three individual squares (or octagons for more points) of various colours. The order of the squares can be changed, and you can drag the blocks from side to side as they fall. However, in the original Columns game you could rotate the blocks too - that's not the case here. That might sound like a serious limitation, but it actually means you just have to be more creative with your strategies.
The built-in game guide says you have to create colour-matched lines of three squares in "straight lines" which would make the lack of rotation even trickier. However, I found that diagonal lines were permitted too, which gave an added degree of strategic flexibility.
The visual effects of DownFall immediately stand-out. Even though they have a basic - or 'retro' - look and feel, the game is dominated by three dimensional transitions between pages.
The animation in DownFall is given an extra boost by the injection of a little physics, too. Whenever you swipe downwards to accelerate a block into place, the whole game 'frame' will lurch over as if the momentum of the falling block had been imparted to it.
As for the gameplay, there is a multitude of modes in DownFall which serve to keep the gameplay fresh and interesting. There are five sets of games which each have from five to nine different variants.
Admittedly, some of these variants are very similar. Each one introduces special types of squares which either score bonus points or add impediments to your continued survival. For example, a 'Rain' square will drop a layer of random squares into play. Theoretically, this could work in your advantage as one of the blocks could complete a line for you - but it's more likely that it just gives you more squares that will increase your backlog of colours to match up. Similarly, stone squares will not interact with anything and will slowly litter the playing area, making it harder to match up with the colours below.
The control system is fairly intuitive. Swiping from side to side will move the falling block sideways to the desired column, tapping will change the order of squares one step at a time, and swiping down will slam the block into place. A preview of the next few blocks is shown to the left of the screen, which helps you plan ahead somewhat.
DownFall was more enjoyable to play than I expected it to be. The longevity of the game is really saved by the 36 variations on offer - it will take a long time to get bored of this one. That's good value for money, seeing as you can get DownFall in the Nokia Store for £1.00.