The Vault №17
It's time! It's time! It's time to crack the Vault! There's a veritable Willy Wonka's worth of wonderful content in there, and this week we're bringing you puzzles of various shapes and sizes. For one person a puzzle can be something to twist their brain and leave them sweating but satisfied with a job well done. For others a puzzle can be a slow, thoughtful experience, as enlightening as it is entertaining. Here are three of our favourite puzzle(ish) games from over the years upon which you may sup. Bon appétit!
- Net - Called "the game for the mind", Net is a simple-in-concept randomly generated puzzle where the goal is simply to provide power to all the red cells on the field, changing them to green, by rotating the pathways on the board. Pāvils Jurjān's devious time sink is sure to get all your neurons firing, and with different sizes and the ability to wrap borders, can be as difficult as you like. (Which, knowing you brainiacs, is probably going to be "very".) While not big on bells and whistles, Net's pick-up-and-play style combined with its vast replay value makes it the perfect casual gameplay equivalent of the morning crossword. Or, you know, something to keep you up at the monitor at night, reeking of madness and desperation. Whichever.
- Hapland - If you're not familiar with the works of internet frontiersman Rob Allen, that's something you should rectify right away, and there's no better place to start than his classic, surreal point-and-click puzzle series about terrible things happening to little stickmen whose only crime is apparently wandering into this bizarre realm. Just click around the environment, discovering what things you can interact with, and figuring on the proper method and timing to do so that doesn't result in stickman death and make you feel like a horrible, horrible person. Part interactive art, part exercise in exploration, and part Three Stooges-esque comedy, Hapland is a tricky but fun and weird bit of adventure that will make you grin from ear to ear. Unless you're a stickman yourself, in which case we suppose you can't grin because all you have is a featureless, smooth black orb for a face. Creepy.
- Shift - If there's one thing that sets my heart aflutter (aside from pineapple pizza and cats being forced to wear tiny outfits), it's soothing, exploratory pieces of interactive art. In this lovely game from White Kiwi, the only real goal is discovery and beauty. You play a tiny, fairy-like creature in a mysterious forest that is initially dark and foreboding. Click to interact with your environment, and solve simple puzzles to reveal the world around you. The lack of instructions might initially be a bit of a turn-off for some players, but Shift also doesn't come with any sort of penalties. If you've played one too many twitch shooters lately, or just find that life is getting you down, Shift's short but sweet experience is like a cup of warm, aromatic tea for the soul.
While we welcome any comments about this weekly feature here, we do ask that if you need any help with the individual games, please post your questions on that game's review page. Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and rediscover some awesome!