KOSMOS are seriously flying the flag for solo gamers right now, and I love it. First came Ubongo solo in their “Brain Games To Go” range, and now we have Dimension Solo! And somehow, they have managed to put the 3D pyramid building gameplay into a portable, flat packed case ready for playing here, there, or anywhere!
Don’t get me wrong. Dimension can be played solo and I really enjoy the single player variant that comes inside the box. But having my own wee puzzle that I can carry around with me and play any time I want adds another dimension to my solo gaming experience!
And with 200 challenges packed inside the small case, I am going to be dizzy for Dimension for some time to come!
So, how does it play?
The case contains everything you need – 20 puzzle cards, 15 plastic hemispheres (3 of each of the 5 colours), and the rule book (no peeking at the solutions…yet!). Super handily, the cards are stored snugly behind the lid which also acts as the board. Plus, the pieces are stored inside a drawer in the case that keeps them from rattling around too much. Oh, and that lid? Well, it’s shaped perfectly to keep those hemispheres in place when you’re getting your puzzle on!
The bottom half of each card has 5 challenges on it. The cards are colour co-ordinated from turquoise (easy) through to red (expert), and their difficulty most definitely increases as you progress through the spectrum. And side A of any colour is slightly less tricksy than side B.
The challenges are represented by icons printed on the cards which might look a little odd to begin with but quickly become familiar. Essentially, they are placement rules you must follow in order to win and move on to the next one.
To play, you choose a challenge card and pop it on top of the stack and then place the stack inside the case, closing the lid over it. Then it’s down to you to start placing the pieces according to the rules of each challenge!
Up to ten pieces can be stacked on top of the lid in a 6-3-1 formation, and some challenge cards have spheres pre-coloured on them to help if a challenge needs fewer than 10 pieces, it will make it clear on the card. And as well as the specific challenge you are targeting, there are also placement rules that apply to every challenge on it (shown on the top half of the card)!
The challenges are a really fun mix of mind melting puzzliness too, and include things like:
- Use a certain number of a given colour; or
- Two colours must touch (i.e. next to each other or above/below each other)/not touch each other; or
- One colour must not form one of the 3 corners of the peak of the pyramid; or
- One colour must touch at least one hemisphere of every other colour!
And when you complete one, take all the pieces off again and move on to the next. Once you have completed side A of a card, flip it over and work through the 5 on side B. Then, once all 10 are under your belt, you can move onto a fresh card and try those! Don’t worry if you ever get stuck – the solutions are in the rulebook and there’s a KOSMOS app/video support to assist you!
Dimension has been a great choice for us as a family. The rule set is super simple, the rounds are fast, and everybody has a chance to gain at least some points every round. Plus, most important of all, it is fun, spatial puzzly play for everyone around our table! And this to-go solo version does a really good job of capturing the spatial, co-ordination based play of the original.
You’re still thinking in multiple levels. You’re still trying to satisfy a number of restrictions, and your brain will buzz as you try to balance the general and specific placement rules in play. There’s less of the teeth gnashing contradiction in the solo puzzle. And by that I mean, the randomness of the tasks drafted each round in the OG often presents multiple scoring objectives that are the direct opposites of each other. And that makes scoring them all impossi-ball! But there’s plenty of challenge to be had in this solo mode without that added layer. And from a spatial puzzle perspective, it definitely doesn’t feel like there’s anything missing.
The hemispheres work well too. Holding the perfectly round balls in your hand in the OG is top tier tactile delight. But that wouldn’t be practical in the set up and play of the to-go range. I’m still holding something smooth and lovely when I debate over where to put my next piece. And the fact they lock in place is really neat. It might have been helpful to have the colours also represented by patterns printed on the pieces and cards to help colour-blind/CVD players share the joy of this game. But it may be that the palette used is sensitive to such issues, and will be something I’ll follow up with the publisher.
Overall, I love the portability and ease of play in this game (and this range!). It’s a great alternative to whipping out my phone and playing on an app. In fact it’s better – I get the feel of a tabletop game without the space most of them take up! And I’m not the only one. When my husband or son see the turquoise case in my hand, they’re instantly by my side wanting to see if they can solve the challenge faster than me! And on that, having no time limit (well no official one anyway!) takes the pressure that I can feel in the OG off my muddled mind. The pace is what I set, and when playing it’s just me, myself and I!