iPhone App Review: Reiner Knizia’s City of Secrets Pipes

iPhone App Review: Reiner Knizia’s City of Secrets Pipes

May 15th, 2012 by

When you hear about a game called Pipes, you probably think of that old chestnut with liquid oozing down a series of disconnected tubes, as you race to complete the chain and finish the level before the liquid leaks everywhere. If you’re a really old gamer you might think of the old Parker Brothers card game Waterworks, which is basically the same thing except slower and with real people as opponents.

Reiner Knizia’s City of Secrets Pipes (what a mouthful that title is) takes off from this basic premise and adds some twists and tweaks to the formula to make the game new and interesting. There is no race against the clock in this game, no oozing liquid threatening to ruin your mood. You simply connect a network of pipes together, going from the source in the middle to the outer connections, using the randomly-drawn pipe that is given to you each turn. Think “Waterworks” meets “Tetris” and you’re starting to get somewhere. Each outer connection has  a point value associated with it, and you can score multipliers based on whether you connected with fat or thin pipe, and whether you have an unbroken line of fat pipes leading back to the source.

Pros and Cons

The graphics and appearance of the game are stellar, giving you the feeling that you’re repairing some arcane steampunk-inspired airship. There is no story to speak of, which is just fine considering that this is a puzzle game, but the attention to detail in the graphic and sound departments is fantastic.

You progress through the levels and earn stars based on your performance. You earn points for matching your network of pipes to the borders, and lose points for dropping a pipe where it doesn’t belong. The game helpfully highlights on the board where a pipe can be placed in its particular orientation, but if you choose (or are forced) to place a pipe where it doesn’t go, it becomes a “stopper” and costs you a penalty.

The game has tons of levels and offers a lot of gameplay value for the money, but it would be nice if the basic formula of connecting pipes together was turned on its head every once in a while, or if there were some kind of “power-up” or special pipes that had different properties. You can only connect so many pipes together before you start to wonder what it’s all really for.


Reiner Knizia’s City of Secrets Pipes is a great, inexpensive puzzle game from one a game design legend. It takes a familiar formula and gives it a little twist that makes it fun and engaging over dozens of levels, though it did wear out its welcome a bit for this reviewer. It’s currently on sale for only $0.99 and is available as a Universal app for iPhone and iPad.

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