The last game we saw from developer Atomic Cicada (still waiting for a game that's actually about a giant rampaging radioactive cicada, by the way) was Grid. It didn't have any major new gameplay twists, but it had an exceptionally considerate user interface, and it looked so pretty I kept checking my hair in case it came over to talk to me.
Their gorgeous new puzzle game Minim goes a step further and crams some new gameplay ideas in there. The objective is simple, as it is in all great casual games. Each level shows you a molecule made up of number atoms and modifier atoms. Your job is to combine connected atoms until there is only one left, which then vanishes in a puff of total existence failure.
Combine two identical numbers to form the next number in sequence. A "3" and another "3" turn into a "4", for example, and then that "4" can merge with another, to become a "5". A modifier, such as "+2" or "-1", will just change a number by the appropriate amount. Later molecules introduce multiplication and division, and some spacial tricks, like atomic bonds that let you switch the position of two numbers. There are always two constants: a number on an atom can never have a value higher than "10", and it always has to be a whole number. No decimals or fractions.
Analysis: Atomic Cicada make a good-looking game. The important game elements are readable and clear even at a glance, and the user interface does an slick job of providing information without intruding on the playing space. Each new gameplay twist comes with a subtle notification at the bottom of the screen, and if you want more information, just click on the note to expand it.
Even better, your view of the puzzle is totally customizable. You can rotate a molecule any way you like (similar to the pseudo-3D pixel clouds of Coign of Vantage) by clicking and dragging on the screen, and you can even adjust the position of individual atoms. Also returning from Grid: the wonderful, life-giving, indispensible, unlimited, coquettish Undo Button (hallelujah, hallelujah). Here the puzzle is your enemy, not the interface.
It all takes place on a sophisticated stage made of red and yellow haze which, appropriately, is what you might see if a blood vessel burst in your brain. For the sake of your health, try to stay relaxed when the cuddly little math game starts beating the tar out of you halfway through its 35 levels. There's nothing wrong with the learning curve—it's smooth as a baby's bottom. You'll barely notice the difference when the game stops dispensing comforting hugs and starts in with the knuckle sandwiches. Yeah, that's how the cute ones hook you.