quinta-feira, 6 de junho de 2019

Recreating classic puzzle mechanics in a very new shape

One of the most classic puzzle mechanics that we can find in games (specially in mobile games) is to push certain elements to the right places; sometimes the movements are limited, so we need to carefully study the challenge, sometimes we have unlimited movements, but usually get an element stuck in a place, so we need to start over again.

Push Maze Puzzle and Rebuild Chile are excellent examples of this gaming mechanics (by the way, the last one was used in a social campaign to earn donations for earthquake victims in Chile few years ago). Below, you can check out the gaming trailers to understand how this kind of puzzle game works:

This is a very traditional puzzle mechanic and, what we regularly see in many games, is the change of elements: sometimes we need to move rocks, other times we need to move boxes, plants, zombies, elephants and (fill the blanks).

However, recently I played one interesting game that caught my attention completely: Baba is You. The game has the simplicity of this previously discussed pushing mechanics, but you can interact with elements and words; when you interact with words, you can change the order of some phrases and affect game’s ecosystem and dynamics. Check the trailer below to understand this clever idea:

Baba is you reaches a new level of experimentation and recreation of a classic mechanic. This game is an excellent example of how we can (re)think something that, apparently, was exhausted in terms of innovation. By using words as a key to the puzzle design, Baba is you invites the player to use his mind in a creative way. On this subject, Koster (2005, p.152) reminds us that the “toughest puzzles are the ones that force the most self-experimentation. They are the ones that challenge us most deeply on many levels – mental stamina, mental agility, creativity, perseverance, physical endurance, and emotional self-abnegation”.



KOSTER, Raph. A theory of fun for game design. Arizona: Paraglyph Press, 2005.

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