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Five by Five app review: a math puzzle with a twist



For many of us puzzle games are highly addictive – there’s just something very appealing about trying to bend your mind around one of these games. There’s no shortage of them available to download in the App Store and they’re generally either reasonably priced or completely free. Five by Five is another interesting competitor in this category. The developer describes it as a cross between Minefield and Sudoku and that’s a pretty apt description, although both these games are a lot more challenging. This is a free app and it’s compatible with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. 

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Five by Five


Avoid the Bombs

Puzzle games need to be challenging to be fun but they also should be solvable. What makes a good puzzle game is something that challenges you to test your brain while also allowing you to measure your progress in a clear and concise way. In a game like Sudoku there is a clear and definable way to solve the puzzle – it may be difficult to solve but it is completely within your power to solve the puzzle. This is the litmus test by which all puzzle games need to be measured.

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The biggest problem with Five by Five is that it it’s almost completely about luck – you have very little real control over the outcome no matter who sharp your mind may be. It’s kind of like playing the lottery so you’ll never be able to know how it’s going to turn out for sure. This random element to this game really hurts the apps appeal. This app will require 2.8 MB of available space on your iOS device.

How to Play

You’ll find the instructions for how to play Five by Five in its App Store profile so you’ll want to read this carefully. It’s really not a difficult game to play. The game board is divided into five rows and five columns of tiles, behind each tile is either a number or a bomb, at the head of each row or column is a total number that all of the tiles in that row or column add up to, to complete the board you have to turn over all the tiles that add up to that number without coming across a bomb. Each row or column also indicates how many bombs are hiding there.

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What makes this app frustrating is that there is no strategy you can employ that will guarantee you success. Obviously if a row or column indicates that there are no bombs in it the best strategy is to turn these tiles over first, but after you’ve done that the rest is just guesswork. For a puzzle game to be a success there has to be a strategy that a user can employ that will guarantee success – otherwise it’s just a completely random game of chance. To address this problem the developer might want to consider quickly flashing the tiles turned over for a split second so that the user can at least rely on their memory to develop a strategy. The random nature of the app as it stands just isn’t that much fun.

Five by Five


Pros and Cons


  • Game strategy is easy to understand
  • Instructions on app's profile
  • The app is free


  • You have very little control over the game’s outcome

Final Words

Five by Five could be a decent puzzle game with some tweaks but as it stands now it isn’t too satisfying. The game is pretty easy to figure out but what makes it difficult to recommend is the completely random nature of the game. There are strategies you can employ to complete part of the board, but as it works now the final outcome is totally out of the hands of the user. Until the developers manage to correct this issue it’s probably best to give this one a pass.


Five by Five

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Cherry is a hard-working writer and an aspiring web designer who can't go a day without using her favorite apps. She's always on the lookout for new apps and enjoys discovering ones that others have overlooked.