Atmospheric/zen puzzle games can be hit-or-miss for me; sometimes they’re totally transcendent and wonderful experiences, and other times it feels like a chic minimal tragedies with one interesting “hook” that definitely doesn’t deserve an entire game’s worth of puzzles.
Recently released on iOS, A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build is definitely the former. And I don’t only love it because its title sounds like something I’d come up with. ;)
The game promises something simple (build some snowmen!), but delivers so much more. My favorite part about the design of this game is its simplicity. But it’s not the aforementioned “minimalistic” simplicity you’ll find scattered all over Apple’s puzzle genre section of the App Store.
The design is minimal because it takes one set of rules (a surprisingly small set!) further and further throughout the game, but, it never changes those rules:
Rule 1: Make snowmen. Snowmen consist of a small ball, atop a medium ball, atop a large ball. Rule 2: Rolling your ball through snow causes it to grow one size, until it’s large. Snow is used up after it’s rolled through. Rule 3: You can push snowballs, but not pull them. You can also push a smaller one off of a larger one if needed.
Puzzle games like this typically increase in difficulty by adding more and more rules, or objects that break the rules. While this can be a viable way to design the progression of a game, it’s not necessarily “simple” design. Somehow, Snowmen increases its difficulty over time without ever adding any additional elements. If nothing else, certainly a difficult and impressive feat.
[ Today I Was Playing: A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build ]
December 13, 2015