Nion is a stylish arcade-style game that incorporates a number of gameplay modes, including puzzle, accuracy, speed, survival, and several combinations of the above. It's built around the simple mechanic of shooting shapes that hover around the top of the screen. The order, how they're disposed of, how fast and accurately you must work, and the number of shots you use change depending on the game mode you're in. It's a very well-done game that keeps everything simple while offering up a number of different experiences.
The first game mode, Puzzle, introduces you to the basics and serves up a nice and calm experience. Your goal is to eliminate all of the shapes using as few shots as possible. When a shot strikes a shape a small shockwave emanates from the impact point that will destroy nearby objects. Aim true and time your clicks just right and earn a Gold ranking for each level.
Once you complete the bulk of the Puzzle levels you'll gain access to Arcade mode which, as the name suggests, focuses on action rather than puzzle solving. In the first mode you'll need to eliminate all of the shapes within the specified time period without missing. Later you unlock Color mode that features the same rules, only now you have to change the color of your shots to eliminate like-colored shapes.
There are a few more game modes to play beyond Puzzle and Arcade, but they'll only become available once you complete most of the first two areas. You'll also come across a good variety of shapes, each with its own behavior. Stars fade in and out of existence, triangles and circles like to slide around, and "S" blocks explode when you strike them, sending flak out in a small radius and taking care of any stray shapes in the area. My personal favorite are the purple arrows that, when shot, fire out their own blast in the direction they point. It helps to make pewpewpew noises when that happens, trust me.
Analysis: Nion wins points in my book for its simple audio/visual style and the way it integrates a variety of gameplay styles into one package. The atmosphere set by the sparsely-colored screens is dark and a bit intense, drawing you in even further. The ability to skip and choose levels keeps frustration at bay, though I still found myself stumped a few times.
My only complaint with Nion is that it requires a little too much time and effort to unlock more advanced game modes. I like the concept of having to earn them, but working through two thirds of the first few modes is tougher than it may seem, and while the game is extraordinarily forgiving when it comes to unlocking things, I still wanted to experience the last few modes much earlier in the game.
A simple game with a simple setup that rewards you with varied gameplay. With six modes of play and 144 stages in all, Nion is just what I like to see in a casual game.