This game’s opening puzzle locked almost the entire game out of reach for me. I futzed with what I could for a while, and things seemed competent, but I couldn’t seem to do anything in the bit of the game I had unlocked.
Specifically: the game starts off in a ‘simulation’, where you’re in a forest. You have to search the forest for a particular type of tree, and each type you find unlocks a game area in each compass direction. There is no list of trees to search for. From the available corpus of tree types, you have to guess the eight trees that the author was thinking of. I got two right away, then my next two weren’t recognized. I mucked about in the two areas that unlocked. I came back to the forest, and tried a couple more. No luck. I looked up ‘list of trees’ on Wikipedia. Six more types, and got one. I tried thirteen more, with no hits. So for 23 different tree types, three of them worked, and I still had five more to go.
Finally, I had about given up, went to write this review… and finally thought to try something new. And, of course, there were the hints after all: the game didn’t expect me to guess eight types of trees ex nihilo; there was an in-game way to find them.
I feel like this is partly my own fault and partly the fault of the puzzle: if I hadn’t tried two tree types successfully initially, I wouldn’t have thought it was possible to just guess them, and I wouldn’t have been stuck so long.
Once I actually could access the rest of the game, I made reasonable progress. It turned out to be no surprise that I couldn’t do much before: many if not most of the puzzles involve using an item from one area in a different area. I never reached the end, but I’m stopping for now: I’ve played a good amount of the game, have probably invested the requisite two hours or so, and more importantly, it’s the sort of game that feels to me like you need to take breaks when playing it; one of those games where you mull the puzzles in the back of your mind a while, and finally think of something new to try.
However, while the game was quite functional and competently coded, something about the writing felt a bit off, for me. The box text promised more than was delivered, for one, and in general, it seemed like there was a lot of cursory dealing with issues that I felt deserved more care or attention. I wasn’t super keen on the ‘it’s a simulation’ framing story, either; it kind of felt like a cop-out. (Though I can’t think of a better one for the game design on display here.)
The game also stymied me for a long time—I’m trying to play these comp games in fits and starts when I have time, and I kept bouncing off of this one, which stopped me (perhaps unwisely) from playing something else instead. Anyway: competent game, some reasonable puzzles and one big on that stopped me cold for unfortunate reasons, but also a little off-putting for hard-to-define reasons.
Did the author have something to say? : I felt like the author wanted to say some things about trees, but this didn’t come through very well, and that they could have said things about some of the other elements in the game, but didn’t, or only dealt with them very superficially (i.e. as puzzle pieces, not as anything real).
Did I have something to do? : Yes; it was a honest-to-goodness puzzle fest. A somewhat lifeless puzzle fest, but there were some satisfying solutions in there that I appreciated.