By Mento 5 Comments
I almost forgot to play today's game, instead focusing most of my efforts today on writing the next big Wiki Project update blog. Those things always take longer than anticipated for reasons I cannot quite fathom. (Though I suspect a 5000 word count probably has something to do with it.) Anyway, I should be rolling that bad boy out tomorrow, time permitting.
It's fortunate, then, that I picked another puzzle-based backlog item with a sparse runtime. Eventually, I'll be back to the triple-day types, though I've started to take on a few... well, I suppose stowaways. Games that I've expounded on earlier in this series that I left mostly complete, and have been using the occasional spare moment to finish off. Life of Pixel is one, having only a few of the ridiculous Amiga stages left and most of the Apple II stages as well, and yesterday's NightSky.
Happily, I managed to get to the end of NightSky within an hour or so after where I last left it. Knowing roughly which parts of the stage had the hidden star collectibles made it far easier to locate them, though a few were still tricky to actually reach. The last few sections of the "Slightly Nonsense" final chapter went by smoothly and the game presented its credits in a "victory lap" style of easy puzzles to see me out. The game has a harder difficulty, but... well, I'm not sure how much it actually changes. Seems like it only makes the existing stages slightly harder by adding a few new objects here and there. I still like that game, for as basic at its physiscs puzzles were: the game has a great sense of intuitive design, that sense of knowing approximately how events will play out if you went full speed at an angled slope. Many of the trickier jumps could be feathered through (or simply fortuitously timed) rather than being the maddeningly precise sort of ball physics game that something like Obulis is. Chances are you picked NightSky up in the same bundle I did (it was in Humble Indie Bundle #4, as well as a couple of their Android-focused bundles), so I'd recommend giving it a shot before consigning it to whatever category you use to dump the hundreds of Steam backlog games you have no intention of playing. Or maybe that's just me. When you get past 500 items in that library, you really need to bust out the category tools to find anything.
Talking of spending a long time attempting to find something, The Room is an utterly unique, incomprehensible search for meaning in a world where many things have no logical reasoning behind their existence and we're left with an enigma to prod and pull at until we throw up our arms in defeated frustration. Enough about the movie though, this iOS port from Fireproof Studios is another physics-based puzzler (I shouldn't have stuck all these together) with a wonderful art style. I say that, but the only thing that has any art attached to it is the beautiful, ornate safe at the center of the game's puzzles. The safe has been sent by an unhinged colleague/mentor to the player character, with tacit instructions to be cautious of the secrets it holds. This benefactor also sends an eyepiece that can see beyond the veil of reality, necessary for a number of concealed visual hints and perspective puzzles (where you move the camera around until the right shape comes into view).
While The Room can be intimidating with the number of dials, panels, switches, keyholes and other clockwork mechanical parts that each of the game's chapters presents, there's very little in the way of non-linearity with the puzzle design. What tends to happen is that each puzzle solved reveals a piece needed for the next puzzle, and so on until the safe finally opens up and reveals a slightly smaller box that's even more intricate and perplexing. Most of the puzzles are built around this stringent successive progression, only occasionally requiring that the player seek out objects hidden behind slide-panels and spinning dials whenever the primary A-to-B-to-C line has been interrupted because of a missing piece.
It's not quite as challenging as its byzantine presentation would have you believe, therefore, though still an immense amount of fun. The sharp little animations and musical stings that play whenever you successfully complete a puzzle, even if it's just taking a key from a drawer and using it in the right keyhole on the opposite side of the box you're working on, gives you a little endorphin boost, and there's always so many per chapter. It's a game geared around constant happy feedback for deciphering puzzles and feeling like a smartass, and the deepening mystery around the alchemy-enriched Null element that powers the eye piece and may involve a lot of Lovecraftian business towards the end of it all. I've not finished it yet - like NightSky, I had to stop shortly before the end so I could write today's entry - but I feel like I've got its number. Ha ha, what a story!