A cursory glance at Appxplore's latest mobile game gives the impression that it's nothing more than a standard match-three puzzle game. Alien Hive is a match-three game, but it's also an alien-breeding strategy game — I guess that last bit is hard to convey in a single screenshot. Let's try words instead.
A match-three puzzler of the row-sliding variety (entire rows can be slid, as opposed to swapping pieces), Alien Hive's pieces don't simply disappear when they're matched. They evolve. Match three seedlings and they become one plant. Match three alien embryos and they become a baby alien.
Instead of playing on a timer, here the player is given a set number of moves that can be increased by matching plants and crystals. Those resources are also used to craft power-ups that'll help the player do useful things, such as destroying those damn space-locking robots. I've never hated a robot so much in my life.
The ultimate goal here is to advance your aliens to one of dozens of ultimate forms, glorious collectible bastards that will drive the dedicated player absolutely mad attempting to catch them all. They've got to be efficient with their moves. They have to plan ahead. They have to compensate for those fucking robots.
Did I mention the robots? Screw them, locking my pieces in place. If not for the chill soundtrack and soothing visuals (these are the folks that made the gorgeous Lightopus), my iPad would be a shattered mess right now.
I wouldn't call Alien Hive an evolutionary leap in the match-three genre — it's more a natural progression, marrying the progression of games like Chip Chain with more traditional match-three mechanics. Still it's a winning combination, with an almost perfect relaxation-to-robot ratio.