puzzle game

All posts tagged puzzle game

For those who seek visceral death in bizarre, creepy fantasy lands, look no farther! Badland 1 was a great journey through a machine infested forest, and if you liked that then Badland 2 is the experience you’re looking for!

In 2013 Frogmind released the incredibly fresh and sharp game Badland. The original was compelling, surprising, eerie, and exhilarating. With the Game of the Year Edition bringing the single player level count to 100, I thought I probably didn’t want more Badland. After a few levels of Badland 2, I quickly changed my mind.

It should be noted that Badland 2 has been out for well over a year, but I personally hadn’t spent much time with it until just recently, and I think that it is well worth a mention here as a great indie mobile game recommendation. The game is a little old but still stands up incredibly well and is just as amazing as some of the better mobile games of this year.

Setting: Bizarre lands, familiar and new. The setting of Badland 2 starts off pretty much the same as the original. The unmistakable whimsy of Badland is seen through all the eerie and beautiful levels. The small fragile creature you control flaps through a twisted quiet forest that has been infested with machines. The sharp contrast between nature and metal starts as a familiar, yet effective mood. As the levels continue however the biome of the levels changes, introducing more realized versions of past level variations. Snow levels have new environmental challenges, like ice beams. Fire levels have lava flows, heat lamps, and lasers…so many lasers. And finally the hero (and their many clones) find themselves in an all new sort of void environment, with floating green plasma, new gravity mechanics, and puzzles.

No matter the color and style of the environments and puzzles, Bandland 2 is still very much the same game as the original at heart,  which is perfect. Any large departure from the original game mechanics would likely be a loss. The squeal feels much more like a natural progression from where the first game left off.

Gameplay: New Layers of Paint on the Same, Wonderful Game. For those who have not played the first installation, essentially the objective of any level is to get at least one of the flying (or rolling) creatures that you control to the end alive. Though there are other objectives, which i’ll talk about in a minute, this all the player needs to do to win any given level. There are of course always a gauntlet of spines, explosives, lasers, waterfalls, pits, and lava (to name a few) which the player must carefully avoid on their way to the goal. The controls are super easy to use, just tap the left or right side of the screen to move in that direction and keep from falling for a second. This creates a simple but challenging task as flying through levels usually demands a lot of avoiding things.

Some of my favorite times with Badland 2 (and 1 for that matter), are levels that incorporate a lot of the pick-ups that change speed and slow time. These are often combined with cloning pick-ups will split and duplicate the little creatures. There are some incredible moments in Badland 2 particularly that give the player a brief feeling of being out of control. Having  50 clones tear across an open map full of saws at super speed, then dramatically slowing time just before they all die is an example of the kinds of things that this game will impose upon it’s players. One new addition to the squeal is the occasional ability to stop time, which makes for some amazing moments. There are also pick-ups that will make the clones sticky, bouncy, fat and heavy, or tiny and fast. This makes for tons of crazy combinations that are tricky but always fun to experiment with.

Difficulty: Change your goals to change difficulty. Though the main goal of any given level is always to get at least one clone to the end, levels always have secondary objectives like getting a certain number of clones to the end, losing no clones, or finishing the level in one try. This challenge based objective system allows players to progress through most levels simply attempting them multiple times, while also allowing experienced players to challenge themselves by aiming for more specific (and much harder) goals. This allows Badland to be what the player wants; An atmospheric immersive experience, or a tight difficult set of challenges.

Badland 2 is not really new anymore, but it still holds up as one of my personal favorite mobile games. If you decide to get into the greatness that is the Badland games, bigger screens if available are recommended along with headphones. The game’s soundtrack is subtle but all the sound design blends together to make for a great audio experience. Badland 2 is available on Android and IOS. I believe that the only difference is that the IOS version is $4, while the Android version is free but plays ads unless you pay to remove them. Badland 1 Game of the Year edition is available on Steam for $10, with controls and levels adapted for PC. This Steam version also features a 4 player mode to play with friends!

The Badland games are some of my favorites for playing in my spare time and I defiantly recommend them to anyone at all interested!

As always, happy gaming friends! 

Causality is one of those rare games that is so tight and clean, so well executed that even if it’s not exactly your thing, you have to recognize a level of excellence in it’s construct. Simple, beautiful, unique, and challenging as hell, this is a must-have for puzzle game champions.

Causality, a fresh puzzle game by London based game company Loju challenges players to guide several astronauts through simple mazes to color coded exits. Players will quickly discover the complexity of Causality as they are forced to navigate space AND time, rewinding and fast forwarding the timeline in order to time all their paths correctly. The cosmic explorers themselves can travel back and forth through time, helping their past and future selves, making for a tight, complicated, puzzle game.

Causality is not the first puzzle game to use time mechanics. Jonathan Blow’s “Braid” used similar elements. Causality is unique however in that the player is asked to manage several units and move them all to an exit rather than a single protagonist. If one unit moves into a time warp the others will continue on their first timeline, unaffected by the time shift, makes for interesting possibilities and path combinations.

I got this game relatively recently and found it to be harder than I anticipated. I’m not necessarily a champion at puzzles, but I’ve defeated my share of tricky games. I played through the first 4 Myst games (well, up to the end of 4) back in the day and have found a handle full of newer puzzle games like INSIDE, the Portal series, and Laura Croft GO to be exceptionally compelling. Causality,is simple, but becomes rapidly difficult. By the time you’ve overcome the challenges that face you in the first world the levels seem to grow exponentially difficult. There is some variance in difficulty, and since you always have at least 2 level options it is possible to skip levels that give you a special kind of torture. Sometimes I’ve had to skip levels entirely, but then found I could beat the next one without too much trouble.

The best thing this game has going for it by far is the time teleporter mechanic. Though it is always fun moving the timeline forward and backward at will, things really get interesting when you can move a character forward in time (causing him to appear already walking as soon as his past self has a path that will eventually lead him there.), or jump them backwards in time, giving you more “turns” to solve the puzzle. Future and past characters can get in the way, or aid each other as they can activate switches and remove obstacles. Be careful not to induce paradoxes in space and time on your travelers though! Getting an astronaut stuck in a time loop will prevent you from finishing the level! That along with a smattering of other dangers and obstacles make the best levels!

Because the game is so dense, levels can be headache inducing. Part of the charm of Causality though is it’s simple and clean presentation. There is no story, no reason for your missions, not even an intro video. But that’s OK. Sometimes games can try too hard to make themselves more complicated when the part of the game that’s fun is just the actual game itself. (Or in this case fun and often brain-smashingly hard). I only have two criticisms of the game in it’s current state:

1. The game does not take advantage of it’s most fun element enough (the time-teleporters, some levels don’t have them at all).

2. The game has only four areas which are not terribly large, but very hard. I would have liked to see the difficulty curve not spike so fast, but then again, I do appreciate that Loju stuck with what makes their puzzles stand out; which is complicated, nuanced levels that implement time-travel.

Causality is available on Android and IOS for $2. Honestly with the level of excellence that Loju has brought to us It should probably be more expensive, so for 2 bucks? totally worth it! I am yet to have beaten it, but plan on at least trying to finish all the main puzzles, which if I put some time into it, I’m sure I can do. If you have any thoughts about the difficulty or other elements of Causality, please leave a comment below, and as always…

Happy Gaming Friends!

– AN ILLUSORY ADVENTURE OF
IMPOSSIBLE ARCHITECTURE AND FORGIVENESS –

Monument Valley is more than a game, it is Art. It is both abstract, as well as purposeful, it is relaxing and thought provoking, narrative and emotion, symbolic and literal, curiously real and simply impossible.

To truly experience the creative power of this game, you really just need to play through it for yourself. (If you can’t tell, I’m a huge fan). You need to get a cup of coffee, ice cream, or popcorn, (or one of each), put on your noise canceling headphones, and immerse yourself in the subtle and inviting world of Monument Valley.

Story/Setting – Subtle and unexpected. Though the game a puzzle game first, you will begin to see that themes and motifs related to the characters in the game will start to form a quiet but enchanting narrative. You do not need to know this storyline to play the game (storyline is even possibly too strong or conventional a word to describe), and all the levels can be played again individually and independently of the others. The setting it amazing and every level looks great.

Gameplay – Simplistic, but Inventive. The basic controls are intuitive and interactive; you simply tap where you want your character (Ida) to go. You can also drag, spin, and slide interactive objects in the world to solve puzzles. While there are obstacles and difficulties, the game features no direct conflict or fighting, which suits it quite well actually. Everything you interact with either builds or dismantles the world around you to help you reach your goals, which also adds to the immersive geometric setting of MV.

Difficulty – casual, while occasionally puzzling. I felt that the first collection of levels to be released were generally easy with a couple mind stretching moments. I felt I got through all the levels relatively quickly. The only real trouble for me was the last 2 levels, and very specifically, the final stage will give you some grief. But if your experience is like mine, by this time you love the game and are determined to play through to it’s conclusion. It seems that most people say they finished the original 10 levels in about 2 hours or so. (Also USTWO has since MV’s original release developed a second series of levels under the title Forgotten Shores, which I will explore in a future game review.)

Monument Valley is available on IOS, Android, and Kindle Fire. It’s something like $4, and I would say it is well worth it’s price. The game is beautiful to watch and it sounds great too.

Plus, here is a link to some great fan art the people are making from Monument Valley, most of it makes way more sense after you play through the game first. Enjoy!

http://monumentfriends.tumblr.com/

– Jacob Tillson