We see clones of classic casual games everywhere—games with blocks that fall and lines that clear. But the ones that really shine through are those that build on a classic formula and make something new out of it. Chain Factor is one of the those games.
While the game may seem intimidating at first, with its grid of all sorts of numbers and the occasional boulder, it is actually deceptively simple. The game is played by dropping numbered discs into a grid, one by one, attempting to clear other discs off. A disc is considered "cleared" when it is in a row or column the size of the number on the disc. For example, if you placed a disc labeled 3 into a row of three discs, the disc of 3 would be cleared.
The downside to this creative approach is that it's virtually impossible to understand unless you know how it works. Luckily, there is a helpful FAQ available to explain how the game works, but the lack of an in-game help menu does create a slight barrier to new players.
The graphics in this game are not very impressive, but they are stylish and they maintain a sleek, chic look. Every disc is color-coded depending on it's number, but the colors are so similar that the effect is lost to some extent. Even the optional special powers have creative black-and-white logos.
Mentioning the powers brings up another point. This game, while simple at first, has an underlying layer of vast complexity. Special powers, available for use in Power Mode and Survival Mode, have to be unlocked, but not necessarily by you.
There is a password for each stage hidden... somewhere. In the media, on the highway, anywhere they can stick it and get away with it. These passwords then have to be entered three times to unlock a new power. Interestingly enough, you don't have to supply any passwords yourself; once three people in the world find and enter the password for any one power, that power will be unlocked for everyone to use. Every new power unlocked adds another twist to the Power and Survival Modes, and, until all of the powers have been unlocked, the new powers should give you a reason to go back and play again.
Analysis: Chain Factor is a beautiful game. Aesthetically, the environment is clean and modern. The game play is novel and manages to offer something that I've never seen before. The way the powers are unlocked is also an innovation to appreciate. This game is what you get when you manage to pack a fresh idea, a great developer, and a whole lot of fun together into one game.
Cheers to Spectre, Kevin, Gregory, Ian and Dave for suggesting this one. =)