The only game I've been able to play on my phone for the past few weeks — like much of the rest of the world — is Flappy Bird, the Southeast Asian accidental sensation that no one can quite account for. But lord, are we ever trying.
It would take a very special game to distract me from the cocaine-like dopamine feedback loop that Flappy Bird has carved out in my addled brain. Luckily, yesterday, I found that game.
It is called Threes, or as I think of it, Flappy Bird rehab.
Threes combines aspects of Soduku, Tetris, and those old sliding puzzle games into something that feels both immediately familiar and excitingly new. Basically, you slide numbered tiles around, trying to combine them into ever greater numbers, under a set of spatial and numerical restrictions. Usually this sort of game makes me anxious. This one just makes me feel happy.
You see, Threes is a numbers game and a spatial relations game and a logic game but never taxingly so in any one direction. It accomplishes the very tricky task of feeling like a smart game without demanding more of your cognitive resources than you are willing to devote on a crowded subway train.
It also looks, blessedly, clean, bright, and well designed. It costs $2. If Flappy Bird is a cigarette, Threes is a nice tall glass of San Pellegrino. Play it and feel refreshed, alert, and a little bit better about yourself.