The first game of 2016, and hot damn is this showing that this year is going to be awesome. Last year was one of the best in gaming, and this year has shown that gaming companies aren’t about to slouch. They want to make gamers happy, and there are some people on the Indie scene with crazy ideas that are all kinds of fun. Like this game. Made by the same people who made Braid, this is a game that had some people a little riled up. Partly because of how it looks and how it seems to play, and also partly because of the fact that while it isn’t a full-priced game, it isn’t super cheap. However, take it from me, this game is worth every penny. I am still having so much fun, going through and solving all the puzzles. There are hours and hours worth of brain-taxing content here. If Bloodborne was a game where the difficulty came from the unforgiving combat, this is a game where the difficulty comes form the utter lack of hand-holding and being thrown out head-first into a massive island landscape to figure out puzzles that are more than literal. Let’s talk about it.
The plot of this game is almost nil. Or I should say, you start this game having NO idea what the plot is. You wake up as a nameless and faceless protagonist, in some kind of underground structure. You work your way to the surface and then have this huge island to explore. It’s clear that some kind of cataclysmic event happened here, but what that event was and who the people here are is something that you have to sort out on your own. And the clues you get are more than a little vague. This island is strange in so many ways. The mystery is part of this place’s charm. However, the plot is nil for a reason. This game isn’t about that.
Let’s talk about the visuals – this game is beautiful! It’s very minimal as well. The color and depth is so nice to look at. It is so pleasant to wander this island and take in all there is to see. There are some truly wonderful environments that will make you want to pause and take in the scenery. Which is good, because this game’s feel is laid back in the extreme. There is no rush to do anything, and that’s fine by me. It’s a puzzle game. I like that it lets you sort things out. However, with this game’s visual beauty, there is a dark undertone. Something was going on, and you have to think about it as you go along, because these puzzles are tied in to elements of this world. Not much more I can say about it than that.
Another great thing about this game is the fact that there is NO music of any kind. At all. That goes with the fact that this is a chill game. It’s a zen game. It’s the kind of game that you can take at your own pace, and I love that. There’s no rush. Hell, you can even walk away and come back to puzzles as you like, which is good because that decreases the rage-quit thoughts when you’re stuck. And you will get stuck.
Which leads me to the game’s primary drive – the puzzles. This game is hard. Really hard. And it does NOT hold your hand. You are given a very brief tutorial about the controls, and left to figure things out on your own. There are some places that introduce you to the various puzzle types, but they don’t have any help. I will admit, and this does shame me, I have gone to the Internet once or twice. There are even some secret puzzles you can find, which are even harder than the others. The more you do these puzzles, the more of this island opens up. Everything incentives exploration. These puzzles merge so seamlessly with the environment that it just adds to the zen feeling.
There isn’t much more to say about this game, honestly. Is it worth the price? Absolutely! If you love puzzle games, or you want a game to chill out to on a quiet evening home from work or just a weekend where you want to let your mind wander, you owe it to yourself to see just what this game has to offer.
8 out of 10