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Two-Faced – Facing Equality One Block at a Time

Since becoming the editor of IGM’s mobile content, I’ve played more matching games than I can match with mobile devices that I own, and what never fails to amaze me is how different the developers manage to make each game. With Two-Faced, the two developers of Adorkable Games – partnered both in game development and life – have managed to keep me in awe of their own vision.

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Two-Faced takes the well-known formula of matching up blocks of the same color, and slides it in a new direction. Instead of having a fixed game space, with blocks firmly held in their positions as new blocks appear from the top, this game allows for a little more maneuverability. Each block, with its own smiling, smug or grimacing face, can be slid around, nudging others out of the way in order to position it next to a block of the same color. The walls are not solid, and sliding blocks to the right means that blocks will then enter the screen from the left, and vice versa. After putting my phone down, I was left feeling like I had been playing some form of new-age Tetris. Don’t worry, that’s a good thing.

Another mechanic of Two-Faced, which lends the game its title, is that certain blocks literally have two faces, split down the middle like the villain from Batman. However, instead of flipping a coin to decide your fate, these two faces allow you to combine two different colors of blocks. Combining and matching two sets of blocks in one move can mean big points. While it may take a little time to get used to, much like the sliding through walls mechanic, it’s worth doing so if you want to see the top of the leaderboards.

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The gameplay of Two-Faced is split into three different modes (with an added tutorial that is both friendly and informative). The first is ‘challenge’, where the gameplay described above increases in speed until you can no longer match blocks before the screen fills up. The second is ‘timed’, which challenges you to get the highest score possible within 1 minute, 30 seconds. And the third and final is ‘endless’, in which you play Two-Faced for as long as you possibly can, until either your phone runs out of battery or your eyes begin to bleed – whichever comes first. If there’s a chance of either happening, though, it is possible to turn off the game and return to the point you left off next time, which is a nice touch.

In addition, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t mention that Adorkable Games are making the effort to include an increased level of accessibility into Two-Faced, namely for those that suffer from color-blindness. Changing the color of the blocks from ‘classic’ (bright, primary colors) to ‘accessible’ (darker, monotone colors) allows those that are color-blind to play the game. It only takes a second to change, and it may not have taken long to implement, either, but the fact that it has been thought about at all says a lot about the kind of studio Adorkable Games is. Not only is this a smart choice for their game, as it opens it up to all of those gamers out there whom would be put off by their inability to see and match colors, but it also doesn’t end there. The developers are also working on further ways to increase their game’s accessibility, and are currently in talks with Ian Hamilton of Game Accessibility Guidelines. These kind of choices also increase my respect for the studio, and the people behind it, so it’s win-win.

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After all of this, I don’t really want to say anything negative about Two-Faced, but alas, that is also part of my job. There isn’t much to say, especially as my main fault with the game may actually be a lack of skill on my own part, but I did find this game to be rather difficult.

When leaving the earlier stages of ‘challenge’, or on the easiest difficulty on the ‘endless’ mode, I found it extremely hard to match anything other than the blocks that naturally fell together. Despite understanding what to do, I seemed to be unable to effectively slide larger groups together without blocks building up and stopping others from entering the screen, therefore ending the game. Again, I’m not sure whether Two-Faced is too difficult during faster gameplay, or whether I just couldn’t handle the heat, but it’s something that the developers would need to be sure of to continue along the desired path of accessibility.

Also, another issue is the game’s soundtrack, composed by Al Gonzalez. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great. In fact, I wanted more of it. The music, which is motivating and jaunty at first – reminding me of the pianos of happy-go-lucky saloons in the Wild West – becomes repetitive after a while. A few more compositions sprinkled throughout the modes would provide enough variety to keep the soundtrack fresh, and would stop gamers such as myself from turning off the music before it begins to grate.

TWOFACEDAll in all, Two-Faced is a fun, fast-paced puzzle game that yet again manages to bring new life to a long-existing style of matching gameplay. While it has a steep learning – or brainpower – curve to get the higher scores on harder difficulties, and the music can sometimes grate with its cheeriness, the accessibility that Adorkable Games is bringing to Two-Faced is both admirable and impressive. If other developers took a page out of Adorkable’s accessibility-friendly book, then gaming could only improve, and day-by-day a medium would be created that may truly be capable of entertaining one and all.

Fans of puzzle games, equality and to a lesser extent, Batman’s adversaries, will like Two-Faced. Could that be you? Or are you just being two-faced?  I’ll know. Either way, the game is only 59p on the App Store and Google Play, so slide on over and have a look.