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It’s entirely possible to overlook Even Up. In an app marketplace hellbent on grabbing your attention with busy free-to-play arcade distractions and Helvetica-and-clean-lines brainteasers, Even Up is so unassuming you might mistake it for a simplified Sudoku board. But while this puzzler may look like something you might’ve found on Mac OS 9, its no-nonsense approach just means that its priority is strictly on puzzles.
Though Even Up’s number grid may overwhelm at a glance, it takes less than a minute to grasp its basics; seriously, we were solving basic puzzles 30 seconds out of the gate. Seemingly taking its design cues from picture slider puzzles, solving each grid requires combining all numbered tiles on top of each other in sequential order until the screen is clear. You can push any numbered tile to a matching one on the grid as long as its path is clear — from there, the combined tile’s number will be one higher than whatever it was originally.
The trick is learning to look at each grid laterally. Since tiles can only be combined along their respective x and y-axes, solving each puzzle becomes a strategic matter of moving them in the proper sequential order to create numerical chains. At first, you can easily spot patterns: early grids are often balanced with an equal distribution of the numbers on the board, making it relatively simple to see where you need to combine your tiles to go from 1 to say, 5 or 6.
It gets a lot trickier when you’re given a random-looking smattering of digits or an abundance of one or two particular numbers, opening things up for a lot more trial and error. The grids also get wider and more complex as you go, even if the game is overly forgiving of mistakes. There's also the option to create and share your own puzzles, though the allure there may be niche — not that there’s any shortage of teasers here already.
The bottom line. Even Up’s un-sexy, straightforward approach may not enthrall everyone, but its logic isn’t without merit.
iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch running iOS 5.1 or later
Extremely easy to learn. Logic fans will enjoy it. Can be fun figuring out patterns in harder puzzles.
Tougher puzzles can feel like brick walls. Numbers on a grid won’t excite everyone. No reward for beating levels without undoing any moves.