Forgotten Hill: Memento

Published by FM-Studio.  I played this on android. Seal of Goodness

Other Iterations: Surgery, Puppeteer, and Fall

The Short: Gomez, last night you were unhinged. You were like some desperate, howling demon. You frightened me.  Do it again!  – Morticia Addams

Recommended if you like guillotines, insane children, the squelch of bodily tissues

Description: Bravo! What an awesome game. Forgotten Hill has conjured a freakish and exhilarating puzzle experience in Memento. This game is packed to the gills with jump scares, horrifying imagery, and laugh-out-loud gruesome jokes. Memento features not one, not two, but five haunted houses for you to prowl through from top to bottom in order to discover the violent pasts of four families beset by tragedy.

The puzzling in Memento is top shelf. It is intricate with each house containing discrete, localized puzzles but also sharing tools and puzzle arrays with the other four houses. There’s a lot of ground to cover but the creators have taken pains to ensure you remain on track, even if you feel quite lost. This game engenders so much trust by being consistent with tools, consistent with messaging and utterly free of buggy weirdness or ill fitting clues.

Aesthetically, Memento sings albeit a song that is rather weird and disturbing. The contraptions are unique and unsettling: marionettes, scales that measure with human hands, and a litany of odd creatures. If you like the sound of this game, I also recommend Cube Escape. Here are some images from Memento for you to admire:

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Difficulty: the high end of Medium 
Difficulty Elements:
fantastic cascade | both readily apparent & invisible puzzle arrays |both straightforward & esoteric interfaces | plenty of Absurdity | both typical & unique solves

Block

Published by hozdesign.  I played this on android.

The Short: The latest offender.

Recommended if you like being cheated.

Description: I furrow my brow and look closely. I am watching a youtube video. The video is a depiction of the solutions — the walkthrough — to a game called Block by hozdesign. I watch carefully. The solution I need arrives so I pause the video.

I screw up my eyes. I intend to understand. I want to understand. I try to understand. But I will not understand. Because the solution is nonsensical. How do 5 ink blots in a grid translate into cardinal directions? It’s simple. They don’t.

Hozdesign creates games that baffle me. It’s possible there is some kind of steep cultural rift between myself and these creators but I don’t understand how this can happen on such a consistent basis. I enjoy solving puzzles. I play a ton of these games. I can only conclude that hozdesign does this on purpose: they create arbitrary, meaningless puzzles that have no logical solution. It’s so sad. It makes me feel sad.

If I am wrong,  please, someone — ANYONE — let me know.

Difficulty: Beyond Difficult
Difficulty Elements: — 
cascade | both readily-apparent & invisible puzzle arrays | both straightforward & esoteric interfaces | some Absurdity | both typical & unique solves

Les Vacances de Monsieur 3939 [Series]

Published by hozdesign. I played this on android. Seal of Goodness

Iterations: Monday thru Sunday

The Short: This madcap adventures of one suave duckling contains both narrative and puzzling success.

Recommended if you like beach houses with secrets, tealducks in sunglasses

Description: Mr. 3939 is probably my favorite brand within hozdesign‘s gaming universe. The seven part series, Les Vacances de Mr. 3939, is a great addition to the family. The titular Mr. 3939 never fails to get up to all kinds of stunts and tom foolery in any one of his games. His vacations are no exception. The setting is silly but the puzzles are no joke. You will be challenged by this game. The aesthetic world is a true delight. Is this beach house some kind of retreat for spies? Is it safe to drive this long in an enclosed garage without suffocating? Is Mr. 3939 radio AM or FM? This bizarre series will either entertain you for hours or it will stump you. Either way, you will rue the day you made the acquaintance of Claude, who is a [sic] “lier”.

While I enjoyed this game, I do have some criticisms. They are as follows:  The narrative jump between Tuesday and Wednesday was a little strange for me. After spending most of the first episodes exploring a beach house, you are suddenly trapped in the garage. It was sort of jarring and I was glad to return to the more familiar space of the house in Thursday. The house is far more fun and colorful.

The puzzling logic in Saturday starts to get a little less tight compared to the previous days. Instead of locked drawers and curious contraptions with buttons, the items and puzzle arrays start to feel a bit shoehorned into the story. The solves become awkward and lack that “eureka” feeling. I get the sense that the designers were sprinting towards the finish line of this ambitious project. Things turned around on Sunday though. Great, challenging puzzles and a few laugh out loud animation moments. Bravo!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Difficulty: Hard
Difficulty Elements
great cascade | both readily apparent & invisible puzzle arrays| both straightforward & esoteric interfaces | mild Absurdity | both typical & unique solves

Table

Published by hozdesign.  I played this on android.

The Short: Why? WHY?

Recommended if you like numbered rocks, magical tables

Description: I thought Table would be the one. I really did. I had hope, confidence, and love for this game. But hozdesign has betrayed me again. If you’re new here and don’t know what I’m talking about, read any of my past posts about this publisher.

This game is fun. It’s weird. It’s creepy and it’s hard. It is everything I like in an escape game. And then, right at the end, Table presents the player with a stupid, unintuitive and — in my opinion — unsolvable puzzle. I am shaking my head. I am sad. Why, hozdesign? Why?

Difficulty: Beyond Hard 
Difficulty Elements:
good cascade | both readily apparent & invisible puzzle arrays | esoteric interfaces | some Absurdity | unique solves

Coming Soon! The Room 4: Old Sins

Published by Fireproof games.  Not yet released!

The Short: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Fireproof Games has announced a fourth game in their popular series, The Room. The release date is a bit vague, although imminent, “fourth quarter of 2017.” Fireproof plans to release the game on ios first and a bit later on android so us little green robots may be waiting until after Christmas to get our mitts on this. In the meantime, there’s a fun freebie from the publisher: a downloadable tarot card deck that mimics the set found in The Room 2. 

In an interview with one of designers, Barry Meade noted that Old Sins is something of a brand new story line with new characters. Still it’s all situated in the same mythological world as the previous three. Here’s a brief premise overview from their website:

The sudden disappearance of an ambitious engineer and his high-society wife provokes the hunt for a precious artefact. The trail leads to the attic of their deserted home, and the discovery of an old, peculiar dollhouse…Experience The Room: Old Sins and explore unsettling locations, follow obscure clues and manipulate bizarre artefacts on a journey into the world behind the veil.”

I’ve got two photos and this teaser video from the Rezzed gaming conference back in April. That’s all for now, folks!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.