iso in Review – A Tower of Pisa It Is Not

iso1Match 3 games… some are just completely awful, some barely distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack, and some exceed people’s expectations and present a brand new gaming experience to the general populace. iso is a game that finds itself squarely in the middle of the two polar ends. It is a decently crafted game and experience, but ultimately, it doesn’t have enough to sustain people’s attention.

iso2From the developer’s website:


  • Designed specifically for the iPod touch and iPhone.
  • Flawless automatic save. Exit at any time without losing progress.
  • Clean interface. Control pieces with natural gestures.
  • Progressive difficulty. With blocks piling up and more colors in play, iso gets harder over time. You can’t last forever.
  • Infinite re-playability. iso has been finely tuned for short and addictive gameplay.

iso3iso plays like a Tetris game but with Bejeweled rules. For those who may be unfamiliar with these classics; Tetris is a game where various pieces fall from the top of the screen to the bottom. You can rotate the pieces to fit. Bejeweled is a match 3 type game. You place three similar objects is a row either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. By matching 3 or more pieces, you clear them from the board.

The approach iso takes is slightly different. Each block has three colors that are vertically stacked. You can move the stack by swiping to the right or to the left. Tapping the screen will switch the order of the colors. Swiping down will hastily move the stack down. By placing these stacks strategically, you can create combos that ramp up your score. The game ends when your stack reaches the top of the screen.

iso4The audio of iso is perhaps one of its lesser noticed selling points. There is a certain sound the stack makes when switching around their order. It is sublime and satisfying. Other than the sound, the visual quality does help iso garner the appearance of distinction from the other match 3 type games.

The stage is set up in a distinctly isometric view. The background colors subtly change over time. Each stack is crisp, and it is easy to differentiate the colors within each of them. There is a nice wobbling effect as the stack gets too high.

The only major detraction is the in-game scorekeeping. It is written out on the side. There is a major convenience in fully reading the score, tilting your head to the side in order to do so, and paying full attention to the game. I understand that the current design is unconventional in approach, but I feel it is more of an annoyance than anything else.

iso5In an era where match 3 games have come a long way (i.e. Puzzle quest with its RPG elements and Samurai Puzzle Battle with its Risk like gameplay), iso seem plain and stripped down in comparison. This is not to say that iso is a bad game. Far from it. It sticks to the match 3/Tetris formula to the T. In that regard, it is a solid game. Yet, compared with everything else out there, coupled with the “Didn’t I play five other games like this feeling” hinders iso from rising above the level of mediocrity. For $0.99, you can do a lot worse, but for a bit more, you may fare better.


App Summary
Title: iso (v1.1) Developer: Jacob Schwartz
Price: $0.99 App Size: 0.3 MB
  • Unique design for Match 3 game
  • Good use of audio during gameplay
  • Fans of genre should get some mileage out of iso
  • Awkward placement of in-game score
  • Currently no online scoreboard
  • Could use more gameplay modes


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