Duck Roll by developer Mamau had me hooked from the first level. Something about the game’s protagonist – a voxel-style duck with a cheery stare – assured me that the experience would be memorable. With this goofy little duck at my fingertips, I rolled my way through the game’s levels, finding that beneath the facade of silliness, Duck Roll is deceptively tricky, wickedly addictive, and packed with smart level design.
The gameplay in Duck Roll is reminiscent of classic puzzler Chip’s Challenge, in that the game strips its controls down to four-direction grid movement, requiring players to manipulate objects on a grid to find a way to the end of each level. Beyond the classic puzzle elements of movable blocks and lava pits, Duck Roll introduces Totem Blocks, cubes strongly resembling Bud from Grow Home, which can only be destroyed by eliminating every Gem Block in the level. While it’s not a ground-breaking mechanic, the gem-destroying requirement adds a satisfying level of complexity to the game’s puzzles. The developers continue to keep things fresh by implementing shallow pits in their level design, lending additional difficulty to each puzzle through the use of verticality.
The music in Duck Roll isn’t varied, but it’s certainly enjoyable, energetic and catchy. Similarly, the entire game’s details radiate with an aura of joyousness. Every time I fell into lava, or dropped onto a bomb-block, or trapped myself in a corner, I couldn’t help but chuckle at my duck’s vacant stare, or his grumpy quacking sounds. These details proved to be more than enough to keep me coming back to the game, even when stumped on a tricky level.
All fans of iPhone puzzlers ought to check out Duck Roll, as it’s free to download. If you’d like to contribute to the developers, there’s an option to pay $2 to opt out of in-game ads. I recommend removing the ads, as my playing experience improved immensely once I made the purchase. I look forward to seeing future updates from Mamau, as Duck Roll is a gem, a joy to play, and a worthy challenge for anyone who enjoys grid puzzlers.