Puzzle games

Redglyph

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When I don't have enough time to play a demanding RPG or if I want to change my mind, sometimes I'm playing puzzle games (among others). I recently tried a demo of Manufactoria 2022 on Steam - it's not on GOG unfortunately. Here's my first impression in case some of you like that sort of game. There are a few others I may report here later (Opus Magnum, [the Sequence], Unit 404, SpaceChem), so don't hesitate to share other puzzle games here as well. :)

The dev is PleasingFungus Games, they have made another game before, Silicon Zeroes, that I haven't played but the reception was "very positive".

This one is in the category of "assembling something", or "mini-factory". Robots are put on a conveyor belt and you have to design the assembly line to perform some operations, mainly sorting out the defects by testing if the "program" is correct, or modifying their "program". The "program" is simply a succession of blue and red tokens, that you can detect (if next is red, go right; if blue go left, if no token left, go ahead), or write. You may also be asked to build a test that matches the specs and an existing factory.

Below a typical puzzle. At the top left, the instructions and the type (length) of programs you'll encounter. An example at the bottom with the initial program (Start) and the expected program (Goal) when the robot goes out.


In this example the programs are quite general (may have 0 to 35 tokens), but sometimes the range is reduced, like "2 to 8 tokens", and you can use this information to simplify your assembly line. For example you don't have to test for an empty program.

Once you've completed the assembly line, you launch it, which makes a lot of robots pass through it to test each corner case. If you made a mistake, it will most likely be detected; in that case you can pause and run forward/backward to see what's happening and why it failed.

Once you succeed, you get the results in terms of area, speed and resources vs other solutions. I think the comparison is made with results from other players, like Zachtronics do in their games:


You can change your design and run it again to get the best result in each category, but it's not mandatory. Making an assembly that pass the tests is easy at first, then it gets more and more complex. Making optimal assemblies is harder of course.

I found it quite gratifying when, after changing the sequence order or using tricks, I could finally beat the best score (or in some cases, even go further). And the problems I had to solve were allowing for very interesting simplifications sometimes, they are obviously crafted and not generated automatically.

There are several assemblies for each plant, or theme, then you access to the next stage:


This trailer shows some typical animations to give a better idea of what is going on.

Overall, it's a lot of fun. Steam tells me I've spent 5 hours on the demo (I left it open while doing something else once). I'm the type of guy who's trying to re-do some parts to optimize them until he gets the best in all categories, so if you're satisfied by just passing the test, it will be at least 2-3 times faster.

The game is generally well explained and easy to handle. The tests are well made, they are varied enough and don't feel repetitive, and there are different types of tests which require a different way to approach the problem. The editor is convivial enough, there are even copy/paste functions with transformations that allow you to quickly replicate blocks.

The music is original if not exceptional. The graphics are fine but as you can see, simple and cartoon-like.

The game is still in EA, the final price is set at 16.79 EUR, which makes it the same price as Opus Magnum from Zachtronics. I'll probably do a quick review of that one later on since I've played it too; but I can already say that OM's overall quality is several steps beyond. However, it was released end of 2017.

So the price is fair but similar to older games that may be more attractive and offer more replay value with the editor and community-made puzzles. We'll have to see if Manufactoria 2022 offers the same functionalities.
 

bkrueger

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I haven't played it myself, but some of my friends have been raving about a puzzler called Baba Is You.

https://store.steampowered.com/app/736260/Baba_Is_You/

It has the highest percentage of positive reviews I've ever seen on Steam.
I just had a look at the steam page and this looks like a very interesting concept, indeed. Somehow like writing a computer program with self-modifying code. I am very tempted to try that.
 

JDR13

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I just had a look at the steam page and this looks like a very interesting concept, indeed. Somehow like writing a computer program with self-modifying code. I am very tempted to try that.

It does look interesting. I'm scared to try it though because I'm already so far behind on my gaming backlog. :)

Let us know if you end up playing it.
 

Couchpotato

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So Redglyph where you paid to advertise the game? You can admit it no one will think any different about you. I'm just kidding simple games are sometimes enjoyable.

Mine was Knights of Pen & Paper 2.:biggrin:
 

Redglyph

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So Redglyph where you paid to advertise the game? You can admit it no one will think any different about you. I'm just kidding simple games are sometimes enjoyable.

Mine was Knights of Pen & Paper 2.:biggrin:
Seeing the conclusion, maybe I wasn't paid enough then :lol: No, I just wanted to make the thread more attractive with the help of a few screenshots.

At the moment, I'm having fun with [the Sequence].

theSeq01.jpg

It's quite fun because the modules can act on the objects to transport, but also on other modules, so it's a sort of meta-reasoning. On the bad side, it's a port of an Android game and the author made zero effort to make it more user-friendly on a PC. It's not very expensive though, and the puzzles are interesting.
 

bkrueger

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It does look interesting. I'm scared to try it though because I'm already so far behind on my gaming backlog. :)

Let us know if you end up playing it.
Now I have indeed started it. Played the first 19 puzzles and am just right now stuck at the 20th one. I have played for about two hours. A very fun and addictive game for people who like brain twisters. The risk seems to be that you might have some knots in your brain after playing for a while...
 

bkrueger

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I have now played "Baba is You" for another day, about 10 hours all in all.

The game is really great.

On the first look it is a block moving puzzle, where you can move blocks around in a grid in order to reach a goal, for example a flag. However the special thing is that the rules of the game are sentences built from game blocks and you can change the rules by moving these blocks and forming different sentences.

For example the game title itself is a rule stating that you control a small creature called Baba with your cursor keys. Each word is a block, so this is a three-block-sentence. If you replace the Word "Baba" with the word "Rock" in that sentence by moving the latter to the place of the former, you don't control Baba anymore but instead one (or several) rocks. The sentence "Flag is win" means that you win by moving baba (or in the last example the rock) to the place with a flag.

A simple example for a non standard solution of a puzzle would be, if you manage to form the sentence "Baba is Win", while being Baba. In that case you win immediately since Baba is already at the same field as Baba.

Since you can change the role of various creatures and items in this manner the game has a similar vibe as the old Lemmings game, though the rules are very different.

The rules are simple but the puzzles get harder and harder and I looked up a few of them in the internet. But this doesn't mean that the puzzles are too hard or unfair. To the contrary, as soon as you see the solution you think: "How easy and obvious, why didn't I see that?" It is a similar feeling I get, when I see how a chess grandmaster won a certain chess position in a few moves which I didn't find after thinking about it for thirty minutes.

Every new trick I learn, whether I found it myself or saw a solution, increases my ambition to solve the next few puzzles of my own.

I have completed about 50 of the puzzles by now (the overall number is something like 200 I believe) and had to look up about six or seven of them. Might have been less if I were younger and had more time and the persistence of my youth…

I like the simple music and GUI, the art style and the overall flow of the game.

All in all I love the game and can recommend it wholeheartedly to every puzzle fan .

Disclaimer: I am a mathematician and former chess player, so other people might find the puzzles harder.

I believe that the game is also great for young students, who have fun training their brain.
 
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JDR13

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@bkrueger; Glad you're enjoying it. I'll have to give it a try when I can find the time.
 

Alrik Fassbauer

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I think there was a small franchise ? with the game name of "The Incredible Machine" ...
 

dteowner

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I thought "The Room" and "The Room 2" were quite solid puzzlers. Not quite in the same vein as what's been put up here so far, but puzzlers nonetheless.
 

Redglyph

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Ah yes, I've played a little with "The Room" a few years back, it was nice. :)

I have bought Exapunks, from Zachtronics, they do excellent puzzle games. I suspect this one is more for geeks than the others, except maybe Shenzhen I/O (which would feel too much like doing extra hours for me ;)).

It's rather fun, I especially enjoy the network missions, but I don't care much for the chat and the AI "dialogues". Not that they're really annoying.
 

Technolomics

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Hi! We developed a simple spatial puzzle platformer with simple rules and challenging levels with increasing complexity!

When the ball is on the platform, walls with the same color as platform are opened and the ball can pass by. Put all balls in the holes to complete the level!

We played ourselve and we loved it!

It would be released at 13 December but you can check the store page and teaser here:

https://store.steampowered.com/app/1835370
 

Redglyph

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I've tried the demo of Alan's Automaton Workshop and decided to buy the game. It's about designing FSMs (Finite State Machines), or automata.

It's very well presented graphically and with a little story. Designing the state machines is fine; it's a bit tedious to enter the conditions and the actions at first, but there are shortcuts to copy/paste and so on. What you have to do is clear and there are tools to test and debug the system, it's quite similar to games made by Zachtronics.

There are three qualification tests: the functionality (all the tests must pass), the cost and the speed. The cost and speed have a benchmark the user can compare to, they're not mandatory. Unlike Zachtronics' games, there is no histogram from the results of other players (but I've often doubted them anyway, some were broken due to hacking sometimes).

The animations, sounds and the overall presentation make it enjoyable and varied enough, but you have to like that sort of puzzles (the demo is there for a reason). Some of those I've seen in the demo are clever and you have to think a little bit if you want to find an optimal solution.

I regularly have to design FSMs in my job, so it's familiar ground for me, but I was curious to see how it translated in a game. They're not as rigorous as the real thing but close enough. Sometimes they use technical terms in the conversation that they obviously don't understand and which make no sense at all, but not any more than what you'd see in a movie so it's not a big deal. ;) The setting easily justifies those little quirks, it didn't bother me at all.

EDIT: I finished the game, and saw that only 1.7% of players have reached the end (and 1.3% found the secret achievement).

It's a very good game in this genre, although it could do with a few QoL improvements (the dev is working on it). It manages to pass in review some classic algorithms, introduce the player to cryptography (very basic), and the story is a parallel to historical events which fits the game progression perfectly.

There are 2 - 3 problems which are a little too complex if you don't have a good idea of the heuristic or algorithm to solve it. Since the automata are simpler than programming language, it could quickly lead to a monstrous design and put the player off.
 

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Redglyph

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Sadly, Zachtronics will disband and stop making puzzle games.
Goodbye Zachtronics, Developers Of Very Cool Video Games

On July 5, Zachtronics will be releasing Last Call BBS, a collection of stylish little puzzle games wrapped up in a retro PC gaming vibe. After 11 years in business (and even longer outside of commercial releases), a time which has seen the studio develop a cult following almost unrivalled in indie gaming, it will be the last new game Zachtronics will ever release. We spoke to founder Zach Barth to find out why.

[. . .]

Exapunk is my all-time favourite in the genre, and some of their other games are high on the list too.
 

Alrik Fassbauer

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I just saw a puzzle game with a setting which I have never seen before : "Last Call BBS". It is apparingly a game in which you play puzzle games via a BBS ... Yes, the kind of BBS like in the 80s & 90s ...


Quote from GOG :

The Barkeep’s loaded up his retro computer with a full set of puzzle games for you to download and play. No need to worry about copy protection, they’re all fully cracked and ready to enjoy!

Plus:

  • Travel back to a time when personal computers were new and exciting, with high-resolution pixel art and an FM-infused soundtrack!
  • Learn the story behind Last Call's mysterious sysop, The Barkeep, as well as the developers of the games and legendary 90s PC manufacturer, Sawayama Corporation.
 

Redglyph

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I just saw a puzzle game with a setting which I have never seen before : "Last Call BBS". It is apparingly a game in which you play puzzle games via a BBS ... Yes, the kind of BBS like in the 80s & 90s ...


Quote from GOG :
Yeah, that's my post just above yours. They've just released it after a short Early Access but I didn't mention it again because I didn't expect anyone would be interested.

I'll probably buy it soon, there are a few games that seem nice, but in general I'm not too fond of this mix of "samples" instead of a normal, fully-fledged game. It's quite cheap and still very fun from what I saw. :)
 
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