You may already know that the great NimbleBit has released a new game this week, given that I spoke with them earlier here at GDC. Nimble Quest (free) is unlike the company’s previous hits, Tiny Tower and Pocket Planes, but it’s just as fun and well implemented.

The core mechanic is borrowed from Snake, the old mobile game where you send a long snake around in four directions while eating bits of food and growing longer. In Nimble Quest, you guide around a train of fantasy-based adventurers by swiping on the screen, earning XP and gems as you go.

The gameplay is simple, but it can be tough. Running into a wall kills your whole party in one hit, and the adventurers you pick up during play (which are unlocked at a rate of about one per stage) are relatively fragile. You’ll probably lose just about as many as you gain over the course of a level or game.

Just like in Pocket Planes and Tiny Tower, NimbleBit keeps the rewards flowing. Powerups boost your strength or give you a gem magnet, and clearing out an entire level is a very rewarding feat by itself. The game is freemium, but NimbleBit knows how to keep a freemium game fun even for those who don’t want to spend money, so the in-app purchases are always there and ready if you’d like a hand, but never required or annoying.

The one misstep is that NimbleBit has borrowed the idea of “boosts.” It’s a concept that’s ascribed to Bejeweled Blitz and has been showing up in several games lately. I don’t like boosts at all. The idea is that you can spend some money on unlocking an extra ability or some extra power for a certain stage, essentially gambling that you’ll earn just as much or more back with that extra power. In my experience, buying the boosts is never worth it, so I just don’t use them at all, and that seems like a less-than-ideal mechanic in a game that’s otherwise so polished.

That quibble aside, Nimble Quest is another gem in NimbleBit’s crown. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of audience it finds, as it’s a very different game from the others the Marsh brothers are known for. But it’s definitely a must-play, and if you’re anything like me, this game will snake its way right into your free time for quite a while.

Daily iPhone App: Nimble Quest arrives on the App Store originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Fri, 29 Mar 2013 17:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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