Creating an iOS puzzle game with minimalist design and the latest iOS features (3D Touch, Haptic, etc.) seems to be the surefire strategy for getting featured by Apple in the App Store in the late 2010s. But despite attaining that all-important medal of honor, Splashy Dots serves, at best, a bland and lightly logical time-waster.
At its core, Splashy Dots is about connecting dots on a grid, starting and ending at specified locations without being allowed to backtrack. Its aesthetic is vaguely reminiscent of an art gallery, and connecting the colored dots is something like “paint through all the colors without lifting your paintbrush”. Except the colors don’t matter, and the “paintings” that comprise the levels never end up looking like anything nice (unless you really like abstract art, in which case, knock yourself out).
It’s difficult not to compare Splashy Dots to other casual puzzle games that are unequivocally richer experiences. Take Dots and its excellent sequel Two Dots, for example. Splashy Dots seems to be a carbon copy when it comes to the Dots games' minimalist designs, but replaces the innovative and progressively more difficult gameplay with an inane, repetitive experience. Or, if we want to focus more on the “art” aspect, consider any Picross game. Despite being quite repetitive, Picross stays engaging by promising the player that all the numbers and squares will eventually depict something. It’s a promise that the experience will be rewarding, even if that reward is just a pixelated happy face. Splashy Dots, in turn, offers every combination of colored lines imaginable. And something about discovering hundreds of crappy paintings just isn’t a formula that keeps me coming back for more.