Mosaic without a picture

 Critique, Immersive Explorations, Puzzle Games  Comments Off on Mosaic without a picture
Aug 142014

Video games act as a gestalt between many different kinds of art. The player’s experience depends on visuals, on writing, on music, on acting, and of course on the mechanics and dynamics of the gameplay. That these elements can be in tension with one another has been recognized for a while—”ludonarrative dissonance” is a term that encompasses a subset of possible conflicts. Special terms haven’t been invented for instances where the art and level design don’t work with the narrative, or the art style interferes with the player’s assessment of dynamics, and perhaps they need not be. Developers, however, should [Read more…]

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

 Puzzle Games, Short Take  Comments Off on Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask
Apr 142014

Status: Finished except for one puzzle hiding somewhere. Most Intriguing Idea: Trying to integrate puzzles into the playing field. Best Design Decision: The map revamp, though it’s a mixed bag. Worst Design Decision: The horse, I mean seriously. Summary: The Professor Layton series has generally felt like it’s on a long, slow decline since Mysterious Village, and Miracle Mask does nothing to alter that impression. The series has never been particularly interested in refining its core mechanics, and even the execution has started to feel a little off. Miracle Mask had more errors in recognizing my written numbers than previous Layton [Read more…]


 Puzzle Games, Short Take  Comments Off on Threes
Mar 172014

Status: I have an okay high score. Most Intriguing Idea: Exponential scoring Best Design Decision: The tile preview Worst Design Decision: The scoring period. Summary: Threes is a sharply-made puzzle game, where tiles marked with 1, 2 or some number of the form 3*2N come into a 4×4 playing field from a direction determined by the player’s previous move, and the game provides an indication as to what tile is coming. 1&2 tiles can be combined to make a 3; otherwise only like tiles can be combined. The game ends when the board is full and no further combinations can be made. [Read more…]


 Puzzle Games, Short Take, Stealth Games  Comments Off on Gunpoint
Jul 082013

Status: Complete Most Intriguing Idea: Taking hacking into the realm of everyday wiring. Best Design Decision: The scrollwheel switch into electrician mode. Worst Design Decision: The equipment shop. Summary: Gunpoint is a clever game about a spy, expert in rewiring electricity wirelessly, who can jump very high and fall very far without dying. Using both positional and light/shadow stealth motifs in its 2D levels, it allows for a fairly versatile set of approaches despite the fragility of the main character and (for most of its length) his limited offensive options. The story includes enough convolution and betrayal to satisfy its espionage noir [Read more…]