Developer: Thomas Bowker
Publisher: Thomas Bowker
Genre: Casual Puzzle
Themes: Colour, Shape, Logic
Release Date: 17th March 2014
Puzzles? Check. Steady learning curve? Check. Drawing you in to the point where you struggle to put this game down? Well, maybe not, but it will certainly keep you coming back to pick it up. Sydney based developer Thomas Bowker (Phi, Vol, Weave, Hench, and Ten Space), has been inspired with this simple, but fun game that will tie your brain into knots before you even know what happened. Since he likes to spend as much time as possible participating in game jams, simple but fun is a concept he is very familiar with.
Let’s start by describing what LYNE is. It’s a puzzle game that involves you connecting the coloured shapes with one direct line. Sound simple? Well it is for the first few levels until you start seeing a variation in the shapes that you have to connect. And oh yeah, you’re not allowed to cross a line that’s already been used to connect other shapes. And if that’s not enough to start twisting your mind about, you’ll start coming across junctions with different numbers of lights. These represent the number of times you have to cross through those junctions while still having to join your coloured shapes together. The level won’t be complete without the junctions having all their lights illuminated, and all the colours being passed through.
You’ll find a very well balanced learning curve in this puzzler, with the first few levels serving as a kind of tutorial to help you get used to the kind of teasers you can expect. However, once they’re out of the way, you’ll find that the difficulty steps up. One aspect of this that really surprised me was how you could get completely stuck on a level with no apparent route to completion, but not be frustrated by it. You’re openly encouraged to try every possible combination of routes to get your coloured shapes joined together. At the same time, I would suggest that LYNE seems to be aimed at the more logical thinkers. If a route doesn’t work, you can easily backtrack and give it another go. But here’s a daunting prospect for all you puzzlers out there. Working through the twenty six ready built sets of puzzles will be a challenge in itself, but if you manage to tackle those, you’ll find that LYNE can never truly be completed. This is because there is the ‘Daily Challenge’ mode, which will pit your wits against a number of procedurally generated puzzles of varying difficulty. You get a minimum of twenty five of these puzzles every day, so there will always be a fresh set of hurdles to jump over.
Graphically, this game takes a minimalistic approach, and it works very well. We have the uncluttered shapes, all of which are very cleanly drawn. There’s no room for any kind of confusion on the screen. Each menu, level selection screen, and game screen is very user friendly, with no useless frills or gimmicks to cause issues. And indeed, none are needed with LYNE, as you can effortlessly jump into the game and get down to the business of actually playing without navigating pointless menu screens. So from the appearance of this puzzler, we move onto the sound and music, which shares in the uncluttered graphical approach. A relaxing, almost ethereal sounding track carries you from main menu, to each level. You always know it’s there, but rather than distract from the puzzles, for me, it actually assists me in focussing on completing each level. That, coupled with an extra musical note for each shape you connect to, compliments the immersion factor.
The controls are equally simple to pick up. You have your mouse to move around, and your left mouse button. That’s it. No eight or ten button combos required here. Simple is the word that permeates every aspect of this game. There is a very important issue that exists in video games, that can take all of the good things it contains, and render them irrelevant. And that is bugs. If there’s a bug with the control scheme, then no matter how user friendly a mouse and one button is, you can’t play the game. The same applies for graphical issues. If you’ve got a shape appearing on the screen incorrectly, then it means that not only can you not complete the level, but you can’t complete the game either. Thankfully, maybe due to the minimalistic nature of LYNE, there are no bugs, glitches, or crashes that I’ve found. No technical inconsistencies whatsoever. But let’s not take for granted that this game couldn’t have had any bugs. For all of this title’s relatively plain appearance, I’ve seen a little of what goes into making even the simplest of games, so for any game to arrive with apparently no bugs, is an incredible achievement.
Now, here’s the thing. Thomas Bowker’s LYNE is a great game, and while there’s nothing wrong with it, is it a truly fantastic game? No. It’s only going to be good as long as there are people are interested in these kinds of puzzles, and regardless of how great your attention span is, the fact is that you’ll get bored with this title eventually. But I’m not in any way saying you shouldn’t buy it. I strongly recommend it. It will hold your attention for a good while, and at under three Euros, you can’t really go wrong. And if you want to play LYNE on the go, you can find it for a modest fee in the iOS, Android, and Windows Phone stores.
- Simple view helps to avoid confusion
- User friendly controls
- Easy to pick up and play
- Soothing sounds and music help with the immersion
- Challenging, but not frustrating
- New puzzles added daily
- Just plain fun
- Not for the non-logical thinkers among you
- Even the most enduring of us will eventually find that the puzzles become tedious