It's rare that a game's title will describe its content to this degree. Taptiles is about clearing tiles by tapping (or if use the mouse, clicking) on them. In a way, you could say this game is a form of 3D Mahjong. The main issue with that description is that solitaire Mahjong games are usually slow and meditative. Taptiles, quite frankly, isn't. This is a game about speed and precision, not about taking your time and sipping green tea between moves.
Each level consists of a three dimensional cluster of square tiles. Your goal is to clear every tile by matching pairs. Similar to Mahjong, you can only select a tile if it's considered to be "free" -- that is, if there's a space adjacent to it where you can slide the tile away from the group. You can rotate the entire level to find more matches, but I'd advise against rotating the level if you can avoid it. It takes valuable time to re-orient yourself after rotating the group, and you'll often need all the time you're given.
While the above paragraph describes the general gameplay, it's just the basics. There are several modes available, each of which follows slightly different rules. The three main modes are called Origins, Dash, and Relaxation. Six other modes are found in the Daily Challenge section, and in my opinion, they are the real meat of the game (and often feel more fair than the others).
Overall, Taptiles is a fun, if rather challenging, game that puzzle enthusiasts might enjoy -- especially if they already like Mahjong games and want something more difficult.
Multiple game modes
In my opinion, most of the fun this game has to offer comes from the Daily Challenges. While there are several challenges offered per day, each one uses a different way to play the game. For example, the Color Change mode replaces the symbols on the tiles with solid colors, and the Sprint Match mode tests your ability to rapidly find matches. Other modes found in the Daily Challenge section include the Tap Turbine (which has the stack rotate automatically) and the Slide Match mode, which moves the tiles around every time you clear a match. There's also the Tap Tower mode, where you need to quickly match tiles to prevent the rising column from reaching the top of the screen.
Achievements and Medals
The other game modes, Origins, Relaxation and Dash, are not only significantly harder, but are mostly just the basic game at different speeds.
Time limits are rather strict
These two types of awards are basically the same, the only difference being where you can earn them. Achievements*
can be earned in any game mode. Medals, on the other hand, are only available in a specific game mode, making them harder to earn. Like the other Microsoft Casual Games, you can also earn Daily Challenge Badges by completing enough challenges in a given month.
In the Origins mode, your performance is rated based on how quickly you can clear the level. The catch here is that many level packs give you just enough time to finish the level with a one star rating, making it virtually impossible to earn a two or three star rating. You can get additional time by viewing an ad or purchasing an upgrade to the premium edition, but this still isn't enough extra time to net you three stars.
Like many free to play*
games, Taptiles has banner ads on its menu screens and it occasionally plays a video ad before you begin the level. This is fairly ignorable, but you also have the option of purchasing an upgrade to the premium edition of the game, which does away with ads completely. The only problem is that the upgrade isn't permanent, so you'll need to buy it again at some point in the future.
Premium is temporary
Upgrading to the Premium Edition isn't a one time thing. Instead, you can buy a month or year of Premium membership at a time, and once the time runs out, you'll be prompted to either purchase more time or drop the extra benefits. On the plus side, while this can be considered a subscription service, it doesn't automatically renew.