Read more “Manifold Garden”
Developer: William Chyr Studio | Released: 2019 | Genre: Puzzle, First Person
Do you know the feeling in a FPS or a first person puzzle game when you suddenly walk into an exceptional open space with enormous structures disappearing into the horizon, and you stop for a moment to take in the awe inspiring vista? This game not only takes that to another level, it does it virtually all the time.
The game reminded me of both Antichamber and Fez, both games I also completed. Antichamber mostly because of the graphical style, and Fez because of placing cubes at the end of levels for great effect. But the game was definitely its own. It supposedly took William Chyr 7 years to make it, and it’s understandable. Apart from the tech itself, just creating those infinite levels must have been a daunting task.
The game was a mixture of solving local puzzles and navigating infinite levels that wrap into themselves like a lithograph by Escher, repeating its structures as you fall through it. The direction of gravity changes when walking up to a wall and pressing space. Now the entire level tilts around, turning walls into floors. Falling not only doesn’t kill you, it’s often necessary to navigate the enormous levels since you can’t jump.
See that ledge over there? Drop down for a while until the level repeats itself, then steer towards the ledge as it approaches again and land. The sound of wind and a fear of heights still makes it feel dangerous.
Read more “Perspective”
Developer: Widdershins | Released: 2012 | Genre: Platform, Puzzle
Cute little puzzle platformer that only took me 1½ hours to get through. It’s free on Steam. User reviewers there claim it took them an hour or less to get through it. I also admit I was almost stuck a few times, but eventually I always figured it out. But take heed – this is no walk in the park.
The gimmick in this one was controlling the perspective for a 2D space guy. I switched between 3D mode for adjusting the perspective in first person, like lining up platforms close to each other, then switched back to controlling the space guy for jumping across. There were blue graphics for walking and jumping on, while all orange graphics killed the space guy if touched.
Read more “Trine 2”
Developer: Frozenbyte | Released: 2011 | Genre: Platform, Puzzle
I started this sequel shortly after adding a diary blog post about the first Trine, which I completed back in 2012. That was of course the reason I transferred that, so I could refer back to that blog post.
The sequel was basically more of the same, with only a few tweaks. It had the same trio that I could freely switch between – the wizard Amadeus, the knight Pontius, and the thief Zoya.
Again the wizard could conjure metallic crates out of thin air and also levitate the things the developers allowed me to move. The knight could smash through certain barriers, fight with a sword or a hammer, and protect himself with a shield that could have its direction adjusted with the mouse. The thief could shoot arrows with various strengths, and also shoot a grappling hook for swinging to the other side.
And again the graphics was total eyegasm, with lots of exquisitely animating details. It was brighter and more saturated – perhaps too much for some, but I didn’t mind that. It looked great to me.
The wizard could now both levitate certain objects and also rotate them with left/right hotkeys. There were puzzles with air blown out of pipes where I could levitate a bent piece of pipe, rotate it to fit properly, then attach it to blow wind in another direction. This could then lift a character upwards. This was a cute idea that made good use of the levitation ability. Later the pipes could also be used for fire.
Read more “Trine”
Developer: Frozenbyte | Released: 2009 | Genre: Platform, Puzzle
This is a post in a nostalgic series with transcriptions of my diary sessions of the games I played many years ago, translated and adapted from Danish. There will be spoilers in these diary sessions.
Once again I’m back with this series again after another long hiatus. I’m going to try a few snazzy things this time. First, I’ll let Google Translate turn the Danish text into English, since it’s probably much better at it than I am these days anyway. I still have to adapt it here and there, though. Second, I’ll post this with the publish date of when I completed the game. Hopefully that will make more chronological sense.
July 30, 2012
I managed to play the first 5 levels out of a total of 16 over two rounds today. Trine was a sideways puzzle platform game, but in a very nice 3D engine with good lighting (typically wavy and sliding all over) and with nice background music and themes. The game scrolled from right to left in levels with checkpoints (so no quickload) and it was also a little harder than what I had heard.
I controlled three characters which I could switch between in the heat of battle – a wizard, a thief and a knight. With a wizard I could draw boxes and later planks in the air that materialized and fell to the ground. Then they could e.g. be stacked or squash a skeleton. It was also possible to lift certain things up with levitation, such as a platform on rails in the ceiling. A thief could swing a loose rope shot up into certain selected pieces of wood under the ceiling, or I could fire an arrow – the longer I held the button, the more powerful. And finally, a knight could strike with a sword, protect himself with a shield against arrows and sword swings, and I could lift and throw heavy things.
Puzzles, platforms and the enemies along the way required regular switching between all three characters, but it often seemed like there were multiple solutions. Still, I often fell down in the same place and had to try again and again, and here the lack of quickload was quite annoying.
Read more “American McGee’s Grimm”
Developer: Spicy Horse | Released: 2014 | Genre: 3PS
Ever wondered what it would be like if a game had the classic fog of war mechanic as its primary gameplay element? Changing the state of the levels just by walking around in them?
This game was pretty much like that.
I only played the first episode, “A Boy Learns What Fear Is” – and it seems the game is no longer available at the Steam store. It took about 1.3 hours to get through the six scenes of this first episode.
The goal was to walk around in small arenas, changing the state of everything from clean-and-beautiful to dark-and-smelly. Sometimes I also had to buttstomp close to a e.g. building to change it or open access to the next arena. The character in control looked and sounded like a dirty little pirate. Whenever I stopped running, he immediately started peeing. No exceptions.
Impressive bladder indeed.
Read more “The Treasures of Montezuma 4”
Developer: Alawar Entertainment | Released: 2013 | Genre: Puzzle, Match-3
A few days ago I took a look at my backlog and decided I wanted to try out a short and mediocre game for my blog post series about short sessions. Let’s see. A match-3 puzzle game that looks like a mobile port? That ought to do, I thought, and installed the game. This will be over with real fast.
5 hours later I was still playing it.
And the next day I completed its story mode, taking up a total of 9½ hours.
After completing it, I bought it for my iPhone too.
This is probably the best match-3 puzzle game I have played, and I really loved Bejeweled Twist too back in the day. Nevertheless, this one overshadowed it. And the peculiar thing is, the full screen mode didn’t even work in Windows. I had to play it in a window with the desktop still visible around it, but I still loved it!
It was a combination of a casual mode that allowed me to continue the story mode without ever hitting game over, and a range of bonus and totem powers that felt fun and engaging. Bejeweled Twist had bombs and they easily ended the game, but not this one. It could go on forever. I really liked that.
Read more “The Turing Test”
Developer: Bulkhead Interactive | Released: 2016 | Genre: Puzzle, First Person
Another Portal clone. I really liked this one – it felt so polished. Objects could be lifted and rotated, but when you hit the same hotkey again, it was put back exactly as it was found – it wasn’t just dropped to be shuffled around by gravity like in other games. Handles could be moved when holding down the mouse button and then moving the mouse. And the watching robot had a wonderful “Jeremy Irons” voice.
It all made for a great first impression.
The actual gimmick was surprisingly unsophisticated. Instead of a gun with a magical superpower, I could merely suck or shoot energy spheres into large sockets. Sometimes also move a box with an energy sphere locked up inside. Both activated something, like a door, a bridge, a light laser – all the kind of stuff you usually find in these games. The puzzles were good and for the most part not too difficult.
At least up until the final two chapters where the bigger areas were dominating.
Read more “Never Alone”
Developer: Upper One Games | Released: 2014 | Genre: Platform, Puzzle
This was a cute puzzle platform game with a small Eskimo girl and a white fox. It sometimes felt like it was inspired by both ICO and Limbo. It could be played either as a true co-operation game, or single player by alternating the two characters. The latter worked well enough on its own.
The game itself was a side-scrolling puzzle platform in very convincing icy landscapes with a cold blizzard sometimes delivering gusts of wind that made it necessary to crouch down. Jumping and climbing was very easy for a while, in fact so much that it felt like it almost belonged in the facile adventure genre.
It didn’t last – it became plenty challenging.
Without spoiling too much, I was fleeing an ice bear on several occasions, a bad guy throwing fireballs, there were cooperation puzzles, even swimming through tunnels. The girl soon got hold of a bola to throw at targets – like ice to break it down or fragile wooden boards – which was also the only use of the mouse to aim her arm in the direction she wanted to hit. Everything else were keys only.
Read more “Etherborn”
Developer: Altered Matter | Released: 2019 | Genre: Platform, Puzzle
Another short one. Took me less than 3½ hours. Not that I mind – I like short games these days. I’m trying to dry out my backlog, so it’s usually either that or a sample for my blog series about short sessions.
Etherborn was a third person puzzle platform game with a beautiful art style. The rules were actually quite simple. I could change the direction of gravity by walking around certain curved edges, changing floors into walls or ceilings. Gems picked up could be put in placeholders to e.g. slide out a bridge, swoosh in a piece of additional level structure, or raise a set of stairs from a pool of acid.
This was the second game I played with my Xbox One gamepad. The subtly tilted or skewed camera angles didn’t work well with keyboard and mouse. Good thing I’ve found my peace with gamepads.
For the most part I enjoyed this casual game. Apart from the brilliant graphics and a generally good feel of controlling the transparent silent protagonist, the music was also exquisite. I especially liked how the music moved into complex jazz chords in the the most intricate parts of the fourth level. That was fitting.
The game did have some issues, though.
Read more “The Talos Principle”
Developer: Croteam | Released: 2014 | Genre: Puzzle, First Person
March 4, 2020
I’ve played a couple of hours of this first person puzzle game. It’s quite long – about 15-30 hours depending on your puzzle fu – and I’ve decided that the game is too samey to warrant completing. Also, I’ve heard a rumor that there’s a countdown in the end. Groan.
But other than that, I actually liked a lot about it. I’ve had it a long time in my backlog with comments about it being sort of a spiritual sibling to The Witness, but that’s not quite warranted. It has actually much more in common with the Portal series, spawning and moving stuff in small areas to get the sigil.
Playing as a robot in first person, I was spawned in environmental ruins that looked like the perfect home for Serious Sam. This was not too surprising as it’s the same developer. Using the same type of level design and even the fast walk and sprint speeds seemed a bit lazy to begin with, but it looked good and ran very smoothly in 4K resolution on my five year old PC.