Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Best Missed Opportunities of 2013

Well, 2013 is coming to an end so it's time to put together the customary end of year lists. But before reaching the usual "best of" list, I thought it would be interesting to look at things from a different perspective.

Today I'm focusing on ideas. This is a list of games which are based on very good ideas, but didn't turn out to be excellent games. They left a sour taste in my mouth because the potential is there, and with some more they could improve significantly.

Let me be clear: I'm not putting together this list to belittle these games; on the contrary, I'm doing it because I think they are worthy, and I hope that their developers will put some extra effort into them.

So let's begin.

#5: Find the Mafia!

The idea here was to take a well known problem in graph theory, give it a theme, and turn it into a puzzle game. In my review I showed how it could indeed work as a rigorous logic puzzle.
This was however left at a prototype stage, with no other way to play than by generating random puzzles.

#4: Circles

The initial idea was to take the ubiquitous toroidal sliding block puzzle and warp it into a circular shape. This didn't make much to make the puzzle interesting, but then an update was released which introduced several new play modes.
Some of the new modes turned out to be very interesting and intriguely challenging. The unplanned expansion, however, left the game feeling like a sort of mishmash, with no clear indication of what is where, and a preponderance of trivial puzzles.

#3: Perplexagon

Why waste time with match-3 games when matching 2 can be hard enough? Perplexagon adds some twists and turns (literally!) to sequential movement puzzles, producing some refreshingly unique mechanics. What lets it down is the imprecise controls and the passé art style.

#2: Willa's Walk

The logic puzzles in this game are truly excellent, but the user interface is overengineered and confusing to use. It is the heritage of a distant past, when computers were devices that only a few technically inclined people could use. Now that everybody owns a smartphone, the first rule should be make it simple.

#1: MindTilt

The trailer of this game is like a rollercoaster. So many things happen in so little time that it leaves you shaken. It's clear that the levels are full of inventive ideas.
Unfortunately, the perspective used makes it incredibly hard to simply understand what's on the screen. That, coupled with imprecise controls, eventually caused me to give up in frustration.

Come back tomorrow for another unorthodox end of year list.

©2013 Nicola Salmoria. Unauthorized use and/or duplication without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicola Salmoria and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.