4/365 – Meditation Games #4 – The (Single) Way To The Truth

Developer: Egor Dorichev

Launcher Quote: “There is only one way to get to the truth.”

I’m not one of those crotchety older gamers that yearns to have games be as they were back in the “good old days”, which is translation for “I’m a little chuffed that today’s gamers don’t have to go through 3 lives, continues from the beginning, and one touch deaths”. Part of that is practicality – if I want to play a game these days with my schedule, it has to be spent with valuable progress as well as entertainment, and if that means acknowledging that nowadays I can checkpoint, have regenerating shields and always be able to continue where I left off, then so be it.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate a simpler gaming experience that offers a challenge around fair restrictions – and that’s what Egor Dorichev’s puzzler game gave me. From a mechanics standpoint, the launcher quote is appropriate – you can only go forward, and if you get stuck in a dead end you either have to reset the puzzle or reset the entire game. You’re not given tutorials, clues, or a manual, and are left to figure out what to do, and there’s typically only one method of getting to the next level of the game.

Sure, this meant that until I actually found it by accident, I was resetting the whole game instead of resetting the puzzle. And yes, that means that a single wrong move in the wrong direction meant I wasn’t able to go anywhere. But that didn’t make the game impossible. In fact, the game was designed with just the right level of difficulty and intuitive presentation that it wasn’t hard to pick up on how to solve some of the harder puzzles. Additional elements like one-time blocks that disappeared, multiple arrow movements, and appearing blocks are introduced and used in a way that makes it obvious how to employ them to progress. There was only one way that these could be used, which made thinking about and considering the solution to each level a lot less daunting.

What’s interesting in the simplicity of both the game and the quote, as I think it will be with many of these games, is trying to figure out the message the developer was sending. Is it meant to be a commentary on how appropriate it might or might not be to be so single-minded in a pursuit of the truth? Is the developer trying to drop in a subtle message about how the human experience is so focused on seeking truth in one way that they don’t see that truth is sometimes subjective? Is always moving forward and not looking back or going back the right way to go about things? Or is it just meant to be a nice callback to the simpler games of old, an Atari 2600 presentation with straightforward solutions to entertain? These are the kinds of things that make this project interesting to me, because I think save asking the developer themselves, you’re left to come to your own conclusions – a part of the gaming experience overall.

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