Puzzle Design Spotlight: VVVVVV (Prize for the Reckless)

A puzzle doesn’t have to be perfect, if such a thing exists, to be “perfect.” It’s a relative term – relative to the game’s mechanics and pacing. If everything is fast fast fast and then sloooooow, that sloooooow feels like smashing into a tree.

And this is how VVVVVV nails it. It casually directs you right into that tree.

SPOILER ALERT: If you’re one of the five or six people who haven’t played VVVVVV, and you’re the completionist sort, be advised that one of the game’s trickier side goals is deconstructed here. As the drive to discover is the only reason any of us are here in the first place, we’d hate to ruin this piece of discovery for you. But if you’re nihilistic about these kind of things, press on.

Continue reading “Puzzle Design Spotlight: VVVVVV (Prize for the Reckless)”

Puzzle Design Spotlight: Talos (Pendulum)

Level design is one of those bottomless pits of theory crafting, where you could spend your entire life discussing it and coming round full circle as you choke out your last words. Woven into the ethereal quilt of game development, level design is, perhaps, the critical thread.

Which is why it’s a total treat, a sugar bomb of visceral vivacity when gamer meets superb level design. A silly hope, maybe, but if one strains one’s preconceptions enough, one could see a future where galleries are organized just for the presentation and ogling of level design paragons. Real arteests, in other words.

And should that future emerge, Croteam’s Talos would surely deserve a spot on the wall.

Continue reading “Puzzle Design Spotlight: Talos (Pendulum)”