Dots & Co: A beginner's guide

Dots & Co. is the third game in the minimalist Dots franchise. The visuals are colorful and charming, the gameplay simple and laid back — connect dots of the same color to make them disappear. Featuring a familiar match-3 gameplay style as found in classics like Candy Crush or Bejeweled, Dots & Co. adds a twist on the format by letting you swipe to connect any two or more adjacent dots. Like previous releases, it's a free download from the Google Play Store.

There are currently 155 levels, with more being added all the time, each with their own specific goals — whether it's clearing a specific number of dots, or clearing all ice blocks from the game. While there's no time limit, there is a move limit for each level. And new to Dots & Co. are companions — super-powered friends who provide valuable power-ups that help you reach your goals. Clear out special triangle dots to charge up your companion; once you've filled up your companion's power meter, they'll unleash their special power to help you clear the board.

For such a simplistic game, there's a surprising amount of depth and strategy to unpack. That's why we're here to help with some tips to get you off on the right path.

Use your colorless dots strategically

Colorless dots are incredibly valuable in Dots & Co. They can be used to link together any color of dot or, more importantly, close off a square. Depending on the your goal, you'll probably want to look good and hard at your best option for using them when they appear.

While you might be tempted to use them to extend a string of dots by one or two, check to see if there isn't a more strategic way to use them. It's always nice to have some kicking around in the final few moves given how versatile they can be when it's crunch time.

It's hip to make squares

While more often than not you'll be linking dots into chains, you'll always want to keep an eye out for times when the dots fall into a square pattern. Completing a square (or rectangle) clears all dots of that color from the board. That's a huge advantage.

To complete a square — whether it be a simple 2-by-2 or the perimeter of a 3-by-3 or larger — simply start your chain at one corner and loop it around and close off the square. Just make sure you don't prematurely lift your finger as you'll miss out on that sweet clear bonus.

But like I mentioned above, there's more to squares than just the simple 2-by-2 ones. If you're able to loop around some extra dots with a 3-by-3 square or larger, the one (or ones) in the middle become a jagged grey dot, that explodes as soon as the surrounding dots are cleared and the ones above have settled down. It's a great bonus when you're busy clearing out a patch of ice, or just looking to boost your score.

Furthermore, if you're ever able to create and clear square made up exclusively of colourless dots, that clears the whole game board. Don't expect that to happen very often, but that's just another reason to be strategic with your colorless dots.

Be smart with companion boosts and try to ignore power ups

As you progress through the game, you'll unlock three different power ups, which are located at the bottom of the screen: Erasers, Sure Shots, and Companion Charges.

  • Eraser: Let's you get rid of a bothersome, single dot.
  • Sure Shot: Pinpoint one dot on the game board and eliminate both its row and column.
  • Companion Charges: Instantly fills your companions charge meter.

Each of these power ups are mighty effective in certain situations and might be the perfect thing to get you out of a bind. Once you unlock them, you're gifted three free uses — but there's a catch. Like oh so many other free-to-play games, if you want more power ups you have to pay via the in-app currency. Run out of tokens? You're stuck paying for more with real cash.

That's why we recommend playing without power ups as much as possible. For starters, you usually never need one to beat a level — unlike some other games — so there's no need to lean on them too much. It's nice to have a few erasers for the time where you just need to get that last dot and you're on your final move, but otherwise, unless you're the type to invest in the games you play, the less you touch the power ups, the better off you'll be. Slow, measured strategy will always win the day.

Also, before you start a level you're given the option to boost your companion. This lets you charge their meter quicker, but it also costs three tokens. Again, it's a nice option to have but since you only get 25 tokens at the start of the game, you'll want to boost your companions sparingly.

Take your time and line up your next move

We cannot emphasize enough how important patience and strategy are in this game. While other games might reward frantic swiping and clearing as much as possible, Dots & Co. offers a more relaxed experience.

You'll want to take your time to assess where the dots will fall with each move, and make sure that you're setting yourself up for another good move and not ignoring anything obvious. You get no reward for finishing a level in record speed. Rather, it's all about maximizing your score and getting three stars on each level.

And speaking of stars...

Maximize your score to extend your sessions

Every star you get on a level counts as an energy orb. It costs three energy orbs to play a level, so if you get three stars on every level you play… well essentially, you could play endlessly for hours!

Energy orbs regenerate on their own every 10 minutes which isn't too bad at all. If you're running low and don't want to risk running out, you can go back and play some of the earlier rounds for a while.

As long as you get three stars, you'll kill time playing the game while your orbs regenerate.

Marc Lagace

Marc Lagace was an Apps and Games Editor at Android Central between 2016 and 2020. You can reach out to him on Twitter [@spacelagace.