Puzzle

Alto's Odyssey

First Impressions: Very simple mechanics to this game, just tap the screen, or tap and hold to continue to rotate your character mid-air. Once again, like my review for Monument Valley, this is a great example of simple done well. Hitting combos and earning points to purchase upgrades in the store feels like you are doing more than timing jumps. 

This is a very good game for anyone looking to pass the time and zone out for a bit. It even has a “zen mode” where there is no score, or deaths, just endless mode for fun.


Going Further:

Monument Valley

First Impressions: This is a mobile game that I would put in the puzzle/platformer genre. It cleverly uses perspective to create the puzzles. You only need to tap the screen where you want to move, and tap and drag to manipulate the world. Think of a more aesthetically pleasing Fez combined with a Penrose stairs Escher painting. The combination of interactive sound fx and peaceful ambiance is very soothing. For backstory, all that you know in the beginning is that you are some kind of princess. Every beginning level does a great job of introducing mechanics.

Return of the Obra Dinn

First Impressions: This game is set in a first-person environment. The progression of the game makes it feel like a mystery/puzzle game, since the players needs to piece together all the mysteries of the Obra Dinn’s history. The Obra Dinn is a ship that from what I understand came back after being lost for a long time. There is interesting history of the ship, and someone has started writing a book to explore the ship’s mysteries.

Return of the Obra Dinn

First Impressions: Return of the Obra Dinn is a unique murder mystery experience. You play as an insurance assessor who goes aboard a previously lost ship, the Obra Dinn which has just been sighted. Climbing aboard the ship there is a clear lack of crew members. After this point, you receive a book with a sketch of the crew and a list of names of that crew. Your job is to assign each crew member with a name and what has become of them aboard the ship.

Alto's Odyssey

First Impressions: At first glance, this was just a typical casual game. The reason I chose to play it was that I seldom play video games (except for this class) but when I do, they’re always casual games. I’d seen trailers for Alto in the past and the graphics really appealed to me. The tutorial level was very informative and helped prepare me for the game. The game is centered around a snowboarder who rides down snowy peaks and sandy hills. The gameplay is really simple: tap to jump, hold to do a backflip.

Monument Valley

First Impressions: This indie game can best be described as a physics-based puzzle solving game with incredibly visually pleasing art. You are tasked with moving Princess Ida along three-dimensional platforms to reach the end of each level. In order to make it through most of the scenes, you rotate, pan, and slide the platforms and various other structures so that the princess can travel across seemingly impassable obstacles. The backstory is slowly introduced as Ida finishes a series of levels and communicates with a ghost.

It's Paper Guy!

First Impressions: This game isn’t very complicated, but it was of the best-looking indie games I have played.  The player is placed in a world made of graph paper and the player can cut almost anything in the game by drawing lines with the mouse.  The controls are simple and the player can interact with almost anything that is shown in the background. The world is also filled with many different puzzles that the player can solve.  The puzzles aren’t difficult, but they do feel satisfying to complete.

Opus Magnum

First Impression: Opus Magnum is a puzzle game based around optimizing alchemy machines.  You design and provide instructions for an alchemy machine and can try to optimize around cost, speed, or size.  You design the machines on a hex grid and have a variety of different components you can place, including rotators, pistons, and various glyphs that combine or transform individual elements.  You also choose where the component inputs and outputs are placed.  Then, you provide step by step instructions for each component, telling them how to rotate or extend.  The game also

Return of the Obra Dinn

First Impressions: This game’s title menu instantly gives off a very old school vibe: there are only two colors and 3 buttons. Once you click play, it gives you a series of save slots to choose from, with each one saying “no fates resolved” for me since I had never played before. This is an interesting way of using required UI features to give the user hints about what is to come. I was left thinking and wondering about whose fates I would be resolving. The intro is a man speaking directly to you, but he has no face.

Alto's Odyssey

First impression: Alto’s Odyssey is a game where you control a character that is sand surfing across many different sandy hills. The beginning of the game revolves around the tutorial where you are taught the basic control scheme of the game. The controls are simple, you just have to tap the screen to jump and hold your finger down to rotate counter-clockwise in the air. There are several things in the world you’ll have to watch out for. These include: rocks, jars, balloons, coins, powerups, and the rope strung between hot air balloons.