Indie Rock: Four Excellent Puzzle Games
- Updated: February 6, 2013
Puzzle games are excellent in a way that’s entirely separate from any other genre. It’s a developer providing you with rules and you gradually understanding them through trial and error. It’s a process where you eventually share the same mindset with the creator in a purer form than anywhere else. With that in mind, here’s four excellent puzzle games released in the last few weeks that absolutely require your attention:
There’s a moment in Antichamber where you’re trying to get a new piece of equipment. You don’t know what it does, only that you probably need it in later areas.
Actually getting that piece of equipment is the least important part in progressing through the rest of the game. It gives you a new ability when you pick it up, sure, but to get it you need to discover an ability you’ve always had and never knew about. Learning what you have to do in order to move on here changes your interactions with several things that have come before that moment. It’s not really about getting the new equipment, it’s about knowing the limits of what you’re already capable of before you continue on. It’s a shock on-par with any epiphany you’ve experienced elsewhere and it’s never directly spelled out anywhere in the world.
The above, horribly obtuse example is unfortunately the most descriptive I can be about the nature of puzzles in Alexander Bruce’s mindbender that was four years in the making. To say much more on how it’s played would be doing everyone a disservice. I’d be wary of anyone telling you to play something sight-unseen but honestly, the less you know about Antichamber the more fun you’ll have with it.
Similarly, Michael Brough’s Corrypt shares the same problem. Initially describing it as anything more than a Block Pushing Game is going to ruin everyone’s experience with it. Describing it as a Block Pushing Game With A Twist might as well come across as a desperate plea for attention.
Maybe it’s best recommended as a puzzle game initially disguised as a different puzzle game. You’ll have fun with what it offers on the surface and feel an entirely different kind of joy with what it eventually becomes. Like Antichamber, it’s something that has to be worked through on your own until something new presents itself, then once it does, you approach everything you’ve seen before in a new way.
Jelly No Puzzle
Jelly No Puzzle is thankfully something that you can discuss at great length without spoiling. It’s made great by simplicity and how limited rules can make for difficult challenges. For 20 levels there are only two mechanics and then a smaller rule that emerges later. In Jelly No Puzzle you click blocks to make them move left or right, if they touch another block of the same colour they fuse to it. It’s your job to make sure all the jellies of the same colour connect to each other.
Because the interaction is so simple it means that the levels can be honed. Most of your thought process will involve trying to consider a solution based on the level design, assuming that something has to be involved in the answer because it’s there. There’s so many paths that seem like they’re relevant just because they exist and seem important, not because they actually work. Later on the game introduces another mechanic that I’m not sure I’m fond of, but initially it’s 20 great levels that keep you challenged throughout.
I don’t know if SpryFox’s Leap Day is a good game, all I know is that I’m playing it a lot. They’ve found a way to make the free to play model even more insidious by having you control the rate at which you progress. It’s a skinner box in a clearer way than any game before it.
Your task is to deliver those resources all to one point in the map directly, or plan a route which takes advantage of factories which turn base resources into items that earn more money which you can use to make your routes even better or more expansive. The puzzling aspect appears in your attempts to maximise profit, or in creating specific higher tier items to complete objectives hidden in the map.
The game fixed all the problems with Energy Mechanics. You still have to wait to progress, but you still can have constant engagement with it. I struggle to recommend it only because it’s horribly addictive and probably evil, but, y’know, other than that I can’t fault it.