Impressions: DaVinci’s Secret Machines

When I was but a wee gamer, I took great delight in the Incredible Machines puzzle games, which required use of complex (and sometimes simple) logic in order to create your own inventions and widgets to perform functions of your choice. The franchise has since fizzled out, but I have found a spiritual successor in the iPhone title DaVinci’s Secret Machines.

This simple puzzler asks you to use simple everyday items including balls, springs, dominoes, and various other apparatus in order to set things in motion that will eventually complete a puzzle. You’ll need to figure out the placement of different items, as well as which ones to use in order to advance to the next stage. In order to begin solving a puzzle, you need to drag items to their respective spots on the map presented to you, which can be likened to a tome of DaVinci’s inventions, just like you’d see on the History Channel or in books. You’re timed, of course, and the quicker you can solve a puzzle the better your overall score will be – it’s nothing terribly complicated.

The stages aren’t overly difficult, unless you’re not well-versed in logic puzzles. You’ll need to figure out how to get a ball from point A to point B using ramps, strings, and levers, and you’ll need to use your wits to find a way to make pathways with limited amounts of supplies. If you’ve got a keen eye for puzzle-solving you should feel right at home here. The real ramping of difficulty lies in the difficult-to-drag items that consistently show up in your inventory. It can be downright annoying to attempt to drag teeny items pertinent to the puzzle at hand when the iPhone/iPod Touch won’t respond as well as you’d like. For such small items a zoom feature would have been necessitated, but patience is absolutely warranted here.

DaVinci’s Secret Machines can be completed in an hour or so if you have the willpower or the desire to sit down and do so – depending on how good you are with puzzles. Overlooking the minor control issues, the game looks great. It spotlights DaVinci’s skill and cunning perfectly while offering tidbits and factoids about his personal history between levels, and the graphics are richly detailed. For on-the-go, bite-sized logical puzzle-solving, this is definitely a simple and straightforward app that you should add to your arsenal.  Perhaps a sequel or updates can add more puzzles or features that were sorely needed in this edition, but as of now it’s quite polished, and a steal for its low asking price.

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