Gum+ is a puzzle game where you can discover firsthand the difficulties inherent in being made entirely out of gum. The goal of every level is to push around blocks and fill in gaps to reach the exit, but your spatial logic will be pushed to its limits as the protagonist sticks to every block it touches and even the most simple of tasks can prove to be surprisingly difficult. (more…)
Now here’s a game about something most of us can relate to, though hopefully not to quite the same degree. Initially made as a Ludum Dare entry, Good Impression gives you a mere three minutes in which to clean up your impressively messy apartment before your mom arrives for an abruptly scheduled visit. Every plate must be washed, every stain must be rubbed clean, and every piece of trash must be disposed of as the clock continues to tick down and the music continues to escalate into a panicked frenzy. It may be tempting to toss a pile of unpaid bills into the closet or to shove an empty pizza box under the bed, but every inch of the apartment will be inspected and you can only make a truly good impression by putting everything where it properly belongs.
Good Impression excels at capturing the feeling of rushing to clean up for unexpected guests in a lot of little ways which makes the whole thing come together. Movement is slightly slippery and items are often far away from where they belong, which leads to fumbling around and running into furniture and pizza boxes while running around the room painfully aware of every wasted second. You need to mash X to clean up stains, but this also almost inevitably leads to temporarily dropping your improvised rag of choice after the stain is clean, wasting another second. Clothing is particularly tricky as the only way to tell clean and dirty clothes apart is to read the item names and even a single misplaced sock can tarnish your impression. The biggest factor of all in replicating the feeling of a hasty cleaning rush is the way storage works. First, items are removed from storage in the order in which they were put in, so if you realize that the last item placed in a storage container actually belongs somewhere else you’ll need to quickly pull out everything which came before it and scatter those items around the floor. Secondly, there isn’t a perfect amount of storage and what goes where isn’t always clear. Some hiding places have an excess amount of storage, others seem to have too little, and yet others just shouldn’t be used at all. Is there a way to toss all of the different types of pizza slices into a single box, just where can all the obvious trash go, and what can be shoved in the closet? These questions and more will race through your mind as you desperately tidy up your apartment and you’ll gradually gain a sense of accomplishment and pride at how clean the apartment begins to look, or at least you will until you realize that you left a dirty shirt on the floor behind the couch without a second to spare.
Escape Goat 2 makes some significant improvements over its predecessor in terms of aesthetics and content, but wisely doesn’t shy too far away from the original formula. With over 100 rooms in the main campaign alone and a perfect blend of action, puzzle solving, and a humorously serious tone wrapped around its ridiculous premise, Escape Goat 2 is a significant improvement over its already rather good predecessor and it is sure to please newcomers to the action puzzle genre and veterans alike. (more…)
Now here’s a good puzzle level! Entrapment makes full use of its room, cramming switches, puzzles, and paths into every inch of it. There are a good number of puzzles here and one aspect nearly all of them have in common is they require the player to figure out what even needs to be done in the first place. Sure, a mysterious old man may pop up occasionally to give some advice, but the hints remain vague enough that players will still need to explore in order to find solutions. Even when you figure out what needs to be done in order to solve a puzzle, the exact way to go about achieving the desired end result usually requires some additional consideration and/or a bit of platforming. Puzzles are also kept small and fast, making for an experience where you’ll constantly need to stop and think for long enough to make solving each puzzle feel satisfying, but where you are unlikely to get stuck for more than a handful of minutes at most. There are a few times in this level when it is not immediately clear if a puzzle has, in fact, been solved so a little more clarity in the form of a brief message could have been added in that regard, but other than that rather minor complain I think this is an all-around exceptional level and one of the best I’ve played in Below Kryll.
This level can take a while to reach because it’s on one of the deeper floors, but it’s worth it! Switch Bonanza is, unsurprisingly, all about hitting switches. Specifically, this level is broken up into five smaller ‘levels’ and a not at all serious tutorial, all of which make use of switches in different ways. The first part is a platforming race to the finish before the gate closes, the second is a short trip across a gap using dragon statue projectiles (this one in particularly is ridiculously difficult if you don’t have Mitsu’s later abilities unlocked), the third is divided between a platforming challenge and a very tightly timed switch race, the fourth is mostly a puzzle, and the fifth demands accurate kunai throwing and some quick thinking. The amount of variety on display here is impressive enough on its own, but I am even more impressed by the lack of a single bad or even mediocre challenge between them; I think the second challenge feels somewhat out of place due to just how much more difficult it is compared to the rest of the level, but even that is only a minor complaint. By expertly blending puzzles, platforming, and precision, this level excels at taking full advantage of the flexibility offered by Below Kryll‘s engine.