One of my coworkers introduced me to Infinite Loop, and it’s a pretty interesting game. At its core, it’s a puzzle game that would be completely at home among Nikoli’s or Conceptis’s puzzles, but it’s one that is much more at home on an electronic device than on pencil and paper. I was going to say that it wouldn’t work at all on pencil and paper, but I don’t think that’s quite true; still, a paper version would, I think, feel a little artificial, and certainly wouldn’t have the same fluid exploration.

The flip side, though, is that this implementation is geared a little too much towards exploration. There are, from my point of view, two problems with the implementations: the levels don’t, in general, have unique solutions; and the game doesn’t give you good enough tools to express the deductions you have made. So I’ll find myself looking at a position, coming to a complicated bit, and trying to figure out what to do next: setting up that situation is what can make puzzles great, but what actually happens is that I can’t easily tell which tiles I know are in the correct position and which tiles I’m not sure of, and I’m also not sure if there is a solution to deduce, or if I should just experiment and find one possible solution out of many. So the result is that that position turns into a bit of a let-down, instead of turning into a real accomplishment. (Not that I’m completely against puzzle games with multiple solutions, but if that’s the case, I like that to be more built into the game’s systems: e.g. I think Freecell is a great game, but it’s also a game that doesn’t pretend that you can deduce solutions, you have to approach it via feel.)

So yeah, Infinite Loop is designed like a Nikoli or Conceptis puzzle, but I’d like to see those companies’ take at an implementation: curate the levels (I think the levels in this version are randomly generated?), come up with ones that require a lot of thought, and give me a mechanism to keep track of that thought. Still, I don’t want to minimize this game: it’s quite pleasant to play, and the patterns the levels make can be really pretty.

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