Digital Upgrade: Decoded
Normally creepy childlike disembodied voices accompanied by distorted and vaguely unsettling images don't install a lot of confidence, but this one seems to know you. And hey, if you can't trust a mysterious shadowy being, who can you trust? In Iluvas Games' match-3/Tetris-y puzzle game Digital Upgrade: Decoded, matching and subsequently obliterating the cute little critters onscreen is the key to unlocking the memories of the strange entity that beseeches you. Use the [arrow] keys to rotate and drop the bundles of creatures onscreen into stacks, aiming for lines or grids of three or higher. As you play and your score climbs, you'll not only unlock memories and story segments, but points you can spend on upgrades or single-use power-ups that can help you clear the screen.
Digital Upgrade: Decoded is weird. Mostly in a good way. The original, Digital Upgrade, was a fairly straight-forward match-3 title with a cheery, goofy design and concept, and Decoded expands on the original gameplay by tacking on not only a story, but more power-ups as well. While the design change is striking and lovely, and definitely impressive overall considering how cartoonish and simple the first one, how much the rest of the changes really add to the experience is debatable, and depends on how much you prefer your match-3 puzzling to be simple and streamlined. Taken on its own, the gameplay is sort of hypnotically addictive but feels detached from the interesting, though awkwardly implemented, story you're supposed to be unlocking. Allowing you to purchase and control the use of your powers will definitely help you get out of tricky situations, but at the same time sort of detracts from the fast-paced instant gratification you usually get from seeing matches burst and your score climb. In the end, Digital Upgrade: Decoded is a beautiful and addictive little game despite some underdeveloped additions to its core concept. Would the third time be the charm? Maybe, but until then, this is still a lovely little procrastination device that's just the right size and style to fill a break or three.