Lifty is a puzzle game where players are tasked with delivering the Minion-like characters to the floor that matches their color. Gameplay is reminiscent of other iOS puzzlers like Tiny Tower. Developed and published by indie dev, Major Frank Pty Ltd, the game is available on iOS and Android as a free download with in-app purchases. Major Frank is an indie game studio based in Sydney, Australia and was founded in 2018.
Violence: Characters explode if ignored and not picked up on the elevator. There is no blood or anything like that; they “pop” and a little heart floats up from where their body used to be. Characters also most closely resemble the minions from Despicable Me and the game is wholesome and kid-friendly.
Positive Content: The game teaches players time and resource management as players have to decide which passengers to prioritize over others to reach the goal for the level.
There are literally thousands of puzzle games on the iOS and Android app stores that can be played using only one hand and require very little of the player as far as input. Most of these games are shallow and lose substance after a few rounds of play. Lifty is not one of these games.
There is a surprising amount of depth and strategy to be found in Lifty‘s basic, but addictive gameplay. The core premise is that players need to use an elevator to travel between floors picking up lifties of a specific color and delivering them to their matching destination floor. This is accomplished by tapping either an up or down arrow to take the lift up or down; it really is that simple. An example of this core gameplay loop includes the process delivering green lifties to green floors, blue lifties to blue floors, and so on. The catch here is that certain lifties take up more than one available spot in an elevator and elevators move more slowly when full. This encourages players to prioritize which lifties to pick up and which to leave behind for the next delivery.
At the start of each level, players can see how many of each lifty they need to deliver to complete the level, keeping in mind any time limits that may be in place. However, while some levels require completion in 45 seconds, others may require players to avoid losing all three of their hearts. Pickups will appear randomly during gameplay and include things like hearts, speed (represented by a green lightning bolt), and clocks to add more time for deliveries. Upon successful completion of a level, players unlock a new lifty, which adds a fresh challenge.
Time is not the only thing that players need to worry about, however, as each lifty can run out of patience if you do not pick them up in time. This is represented by a meter above a lifty’s head that slowly ticks down as players make stops on each floor. If a lifty is not picked up in time then that lifty will explode and players will lose one of their three hearts. Losing all three will cause players to fail that level. However, watching a short ad or paying coins, which are earned through gameplay (but can also be purchased with real money) will start players right back where they left off in a level. However, ads pop up in normal gameplay as well and can get annoying when some of them run for 45 seconds or more. As with most mobile games, players can pay a small fee to remove ads entirely though they weren’t so bothersome that I felt obligated to pay to remove them.
Running out of time on levels with a time requirement will also end in the same result. This forces players to strategize and prioritize which lifties to pick up and how many to pick up at once before delivering them to a destination. Since multiple lifties of different colors can sometimes be delivered on the same stop, players have to be aware of what floors match what lifties and how much time they have left to get to that floor.
This is where the IAP, or In-App Purchases, come in and can drag the game down, despite their fair pricing. While currently priced generously, $3.99 gives players around 5,000 coins which will last quite a while in game; better lifts are about $0.99 each. Though the rate at which coins are earned in-game is best described as a trickle—I would usually earn anywhere from 25-50 coins for completing levels, but watching adds can earn you a bit more—there is quite a grind involved with upgrading lifts. While this isn’t a big deal price wise, each unique lift has more slots to hold lifties and has faster speed than other lifts. As far as I could tell, there was no way to upgrade the starting lift’s speed and capacity through normal gameplay. While I rarely ever buy IAP’s I caved into this regard and bought the hot air balloon lift as after upgrades it can hold up to 7 lifties and get its speed up to four. While not the fastest, it currently has the highest capacity which makes a huge difference as players progress to higher floors.
In a way, progression feels somewhat locked behind purchasing these lifts due to how cheap they are—all are currently $0.99, even with some offering better perks than others. I can’t fault the game too much for this requirement. It would be nice in the future if there was a way to purchase these lifts with gold coins as it would simultaneously make purchasing 5,000 coins feel like a more worthwhile investment.
Overall, for players who enjoy mobile games that allow for quick, five minute play sessions, I strongly recommend Lifty. While each level only takes a few minutes to complete, the addictive nature of the core gameplay makes this one hard to put down. As I write this review, I find myself taking a few minutes here and there to complete levels. I rarely get hooked on a mobile game in this way. However, beyond the basic gameplay and the surprising amount of strategy to completing levels, there isn’t much else here. Though, as with any mobile game, there will be updates aplenty and new content is sure to be added at a regular pace. A multiplayer mode would even be neat to see as players could compete with their friends to complete levels faster or finish with all three hearts intact.
Review copy generously provided by Major Frank Pty Ltd.
The Bottom Line
Lifty is a neat addition to the literal avalanche of free games that can be found on iOS. Coming out right at the end of 2018, my New Year's Resolution will be to give this game a thorough and fair shot to see how much it develops and gets expanded throughout the next year. I like what I have played so far, but to be honest, there isn't much on offer here that can't be found elsewhere on the iOS or Android App Store.