TouchArcade Game of the Week: ‘Good Sudoku’

Sudoku is one of those game types that just… exists. It’s not the game itself’s fault, that just tends to happen with games that have been around for a really long time. It’s tough to get excited about Checkers, Chess, or Solitaire. That’s part of what we love about developer Zach Gage’s philosophy towards making games. He typically tinkers with those tried and true game formulas to create something entirely new. In the case of Good Sudoku (Free) however, the new release from Zach Gage and partner in crime Jack Schlesinger, the Sudoku itself did not need any tinkering. It was the experience surrounding it that needed a refresh, and that is exactly what we get with Good Sudoku. It’s a Sudoku app… but good.

Some of the things you could say about Good Sudoku you could say about any app or game with Zach Gage’s name on it. The design sensibilities are elegant, from the color choices to the fonts, and tiny details like the use of haptic feedback and the smoothness of the animations and screen transitions make Good Sudoku something that’s actually a joy to use. This is a big folly in most Sudoku apps I’ve tried. They’re either simple to use but lacking in features, or they’re feature-packed but too convoluted to use those features effectively. Every single thing in Good Sudoku has an easy to find explanation, and smart use of visual cues ensures that you can always know what’s going on even at a glance.

The actual Sudoku-solving tools are the highlight of Good Sudoku. Zach Gage has taken everything that’s tedious about solving a Sudoku puzzle and created tools to take all of the boring busywork out of the equation so you can simply sit back and focus on solving the puzzle itself. Some tools, like Focus Mode, almost feel like you’re cheating, and indeed they do make some of the simpler puzzles easier to solve. But in reality it’s just the game highlighting information that was already readily available to you anyway, it’s just automating the process instead of having you do the work. And once you start getting into the more advanced difficulty puzzles, no amount of fancy tools will save you. You’ll still need to use your skills, but the tools available in Good Sudoku make it a less arduous experience.

It’s funny because I recently went on a Sudoku app downloading bender searching for that one true Sudoku game that could fulfill all my needs. It makes me feel good that I wasn’t alone in not finding what I was looking for. There are very good Sudoku apps out there, and there are plenty of really terrible ones. But nothing is as, well, good as Good Sudoku. This perfect blend of usability, assistance, and catering to a wide skill level is something that hasn’t really existed yet. A lot of Sudoku games get one or two of those things right, but it hasn’t been until Good Sudoku arrived that I felt like I’m getting the whole package. Not just that though, but I feel like I’m learning and improving the more I play thanks to the tools and AI in the game. Good Sudoku is free to download and try with a one-time IAP to unlock the premium version, so whether you’re an existing Sudoku fan or not, it’s worth taking this one for a spin.

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