Last week, and even before I was having this unmistakable urge to challenge the grey matter a little. It doesn’t get worked out to often in the usual games but luckily there are a glut if cheap, beautiful and challenging indie ganes out there.
Fractal: make blooms not war
Fractal us a remarkably easy game to understand at first. It involves placing down coloured blocks on an empty spot with new blocks being spawned on others which pushes that row along.
The goal is to connect enough blocks together so the form a cluster 2x3x2 long which makes it explode, pushing nearby blocks and spreading more around and giving points. These are called blooms which I believe are inspired by seed pods spreading their pollen around. The bigger or number of blooms created at once determine the score given.
Throughout the levels new mechanics get introduced such as explosions, chain lightning, extra points and moves: they are always so well implemented though and give you plenty of time to learn the mechanic while it brings up the difficulty.
Mechanics will be combined together, multiple colours will be added, confined spaces and they slowly make the score harder and more challenging to achieve. I never felt overwhelmed though as everything was easy to understand and more involved taking my time to assess the board and plan my moves.
Most of the time it is a spectacular mix of music and colour dancing around the screen. Explosions that are just a joy to watch unfold snd really make you feel rewarded when you see a particularly large and amazing cluster go off, whether it was planned or not (and many on my part were by pure accident) doesn’t matter.
I recommend this one to my one, regardless of whether you liked puzzles because it never seemed overly complex and was more just a fluid journey. The end few might need a certain amount of persistence and patience but they are easily achievable if you stick with it.
This is your pure puzzle game involving some heavy problem solving, critical thinking and at times extreme spatial understanding. It’s a decent game if you like that sort of thing but really not much there if you don’t love puzzle mechanics.
The purpose of the game I believe is to recreate a certain DNA strain from what’s provided. Connecting and reconnecting points into the prescribed position takes up most of the gameplay although there is lays a move count restraint there to further the challenge.
There are a minimal amount of mechanics here; tools to split and copy, extend, and free movement and at the beginning it is extremely easy. By the epilogue though it gets to an insane level of difficult, the combination of using mechanics to create the right pattern requires I would say a genius level of interest in terms of spaces reasoning.
Knowing how things can be applied, removed and copied all the while maintaining a move count equal to perfection means I had to cheat on a few in order to get past. The ridiculousness of 1 in particular us absurd and I admire the people who can accomplish it but it really doesn’t help the feeling of accessibility.
It’s still a decent puzzle based game if you are after that defined challenge and finding the perfect solution. It’s the type that frequently gives you those AHAAA moments that make you feel mart for getting. A few times I was only frustrated though.
Both Splice and a fractal were a part of the humble weekly bundle I mentioned a couple weeks ago. It’s too late for that now but they are still a reasonable price on steam.
Sparkle 2 Evo
This little one is what I imagine that beginning Spore section would have been like if it was a proper game. A small organism collecting food types, exploring a strange world and evolving from there into some rather fantastic looking creatures.
At first in my initial play I wasn’t that impressed with it, just travelling around a level and eating everything that showed up in front of me, it was easily completed with little nuance to keep you interested. After a time you begin to find that certain hidden complexity in the the mechanics; the world is multi-leveled and you need to go in-between them all in order to complete the levels, there is a surprising amount of depth to how your creature grows, and there is that competitive edge against an AI opponent.
The worlds are initially an unknown and there will be hidden pockets of resources spread around with the trick being exploring these and finding what you need. You can see one level down and this helps as well but there will also be little blips on the screen, cues that there is something nearby. Eventually you get into this rather hypnotizing rhythm navigating and watching the beautiful wiggling creature.
Depending on what you eat; how much and what combination will also change your creature. Red is orientated towards the carnivore which if you get bigger than others lets you eat them, blue for a hybrid class and green for the large lumbering herbivore. they each have their own benefits I believe although the greater benefit seems to be to just eat everything in sight. The interesting part is watching how the creatures colours, shape, and look change depending on what combination and quantities of food you eat, even just a little bit of one type will create changes to it.
It is an entrancing experience although I’m still not sure if I actually like it just yet. There is not as much “game” there but I’m not sure if it really needs it.
Well after all this it seems my I have satiated some of my base gamer urges for challenge and making myself feel like a Genius. The varying mechanics and gameplay between them have been good as well as there is somethign there for everyone pretty much… except you wierdos who don’t like puzzlers.