As has been reported on the main site and elsewhere, Itch is holding a big sale to help people get through their quarantines. Quite a few games are seeing a 100% off discount, so I’ve been bouncing around a handful for them.
You know those puzzles in Zelda/Pokemon/other games with tile-based space, where you have to route a path through a bunch of tiles without stepping on the same tile twice? Cardinal Chains is basically that turned into a full, minimalist puzzle game. It has a few catches though. It’s main gimmick is that each tile contains a number: once you fill in a tile with a number above 1, you can’t then transfer to a tile with a lower number. So make sure to fill in all of those 1s before you start filling in the 2s. The other catch is that many puzzles have multiple starting points. So feel free to start filling in those 3s as you can cover that patch of 1s using a different starting point.
There are apparently 600 puzzles in all, but a lot of those are easy enough to complete on autopilot, making this a pretty good podcast game. You could criticize the game for having a lot of filler, but I like how it affects the pace of the game. After finally getting through a puzzle that forced me to stop for a few minutes through the game, it was nice to be faced with a few puzzles that were much easier than the ones that came before, as if the game were trying to help me regain my momentum. None of the puzzles I’ve encountered were particularly difficult or large, however, though I’ve only completed around 150 of them. It does feel like the kind of game to blitz through, so far, rather than leaving and returning to individual fiendish puzzles over the course of a couple of days. So yeah, good podcast game.
Despite the title and the protagonist’s hair color, WitchWay is not, as I expected it to be, a fangame of the GBC title Wendy’s Every Witch Way. It’s a puzzle platformer where you shoot orbs at purple blocks to take control of said blocks. You then use the blocks to help you up high ledges, ferry you across large gaps, hold down big red buttons, block and redirect lasers, etc. It’s a very short game, I finished it in an afternoon of intermittent sessions, but I quite enjoyed it, and it has a number of collectibles that require you to look at the levels differently and keep an eye out for hidden passages and different solutions. The devs had apparently planned and announced a sequel, but it was unfortunately shelved.
Lastly, I’ve finally been able to try out Mu Cartographer. It’s a game where you fiddle around with a bunch of sliders to change your view of… some place, very abstractly visualized, in order to find… some things. It’ll make a little more sense if you look for screenshots of the thing. I’ve only begun playing it.
To be honest, the first thing that came to mind was the probing minigame from Mass Effect (2?). You adjust your view of some place until you hit a sweet spot. That seems to be the given goal of the game so far. But to reduce it that is to ignore that aspect of discovery and the very visual element of the game. I don’t understand what I’m looking at, but it looks cool, and it’s fun watching it morph and shift as I play around with the various sliders, and occasionally sumbling into some moving entity that gives a bit of narrative context to the world, however vague. A part of me feels like it could be interesting in the context of a larger game, i.e. a weird “city” builder where your view of the “city” is heavily abstracted. Another part of me feels guilty for only looking at the game’s potential outside of it and not meeting the game on its own terms and just playing and thinking about it as the game itself. But the game itself has piqued my curiosity, so I will be returning to it.