Nodez: Quiet, Minimal, Intelligent

Jun 28, 2017

Simple, one-touch, auto-runner games have always received a lot of attention, not least because of how easy and addictive some can be. Simple doesn’t necessarily translate to minimalistic, though, and this is certainly true with games such as Temple Run and Super Mario Run. A game about connecting the dots, Nodez is as basic as games can get, but proves that, sometimes at least, games with seemingly little character can be as bold as those with plenty.

Connecting the dots over and over to achieve the highest score possible: there’s more to Nodez than that, but as a basic description it fits. A blank white screen is filled with two different coloured nodes: either purple, green, blue, or pink. As they bounce off of the edges of the screen and each other, you need to connect as many dots of the same colour as you can. If a dot of the opposite colour comes into contact with a line you’ve drawn then the whole shape disappears, and no points are won. With seven nodes of each colour on the screen at all times, how many you can connect in one turn depends on how all seven are placed at that time, as well how far you’re willing to go before you potentially lose all points. The more you attempt, though, the better the rewards: connecting two dots gives you just two points, three awards you six, four with 12 and so on.

There are two game modes available: moves and timed. ‘Moves’ limits the amount of attempts you can have to seven, whereas ‘timed’ gives you 30 seconds; the former requires a more tactical and patient approach, whereas the latter is a rush to connect as many as possible at any expense. To help you with both approaches are power-ups: one to stop all of the nodes in their place, another turns all 14 into the same colour, while the other creates an unbreakable line, meaning the opposite colour flows straight through. Each only last a matter of seconds, and then have a cooling off period afterwards. You’re also limited to the amount of power-ups you can use, and earn them by watching videos, levelling up, or paying with actual money.

Swiping your finger across a screen to link up dots sounds mundane at best, but that it has charm, longevity, and sense of tension and excitement.

Because Nodez is spared of too much detail on the screen, instead presenting players with a white background, grey text, and just its four node-colours, it’s a relaxing game to play, as well as visually very nice to look at. There isn’t too much going on, which corresponds with the incredibly simple gameplay. It works because, though it seems like the sort of game that can get frustrating – being given a set amount of time or number of moves to build up as many points as possible – it’s actually one to unwind to. Even as you connect the nodes there’s music, going up a note for every node you successfully line up. The actual gameplay itself is fun as well, which is amazing considering what it is at its heart. Swiping your finger across a screen to link up dots sounds mundane at best, but that it has charm, longevity, and sense of tension and excitement surrounding it is testament to how less can often mean more.

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It sounds counterintuitive to say that the more creative games are sometimes the simplest, but it’s true. There are hundreds of ‘big’ scale, multi-character, epic games on the market that all just seem to copy each other. Games like Nodez prove that it can be unnecessary to throw so much content into a game; it’s an introvert: quiet, minimal, intelligent.

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Chris Carr

A gamer ever since he owned Sonic on the Megadrive, Chris thinks that the only thing better than reading and writing about games is playing them

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