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A jam submission

A game with small planetsView game page

Alchemical puzzles in a relatively square universe
Submitted by Filippo Crocchini, Katalin Preszl — 9 days, 44 minutes before the deadline
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A game with small planets's itch.io page

Results

CriteriaRankScore*Raw Score
Innovation / Experimentation#73.3333.333
Art Direction#113.5003.500
Presentation (itch listing)#182.8332.833
Level Design#212.3332.333
Game Play / Game Feel#232.3332.333
Overall#242.4292.429
Storytelling#271.3331.333
Audio#291.3331.333

Ranked from 6 ratings. Score is adjusted from raw score by the median number of ratings per game in the jam.

Judge feedback

Judge feedback is anonymous and shown in a random order.

  • This is an interesting one. I love the art style to begin with and I do find the simplicity of the puzzles appealing. However, there is some odd sense that I'm not really playing a "puzzle game" as I'm used to them being. This feels like I'm learning a foreign language, and it is a linear process of pattern solving. Most puzzle games I've played (granted I haven't played THAT many) revolve around twists of expectations, where you learn something, then get to use that knowledge for a bit, and eventually encounter a problem where you try to solve it as usual but realize you need to reframe your perspective, or learn some new nuance. With this game, when new knowledge is required there doesn't really seem to be a twist but rather a firm wall. It's about gradually understanding the language of the shapes and colors, and I actually think my time with puzzle games left me less prepared for this than if I hadn't played any puzzle games at all. Another difference from many puzzle games is that it's usually pretty difficult to solve the puzzles by doing random moves. Here you definitely could, enabling the player to progress without learning! My first time playing the game I was really confused, and after the "red and blue" section was suddenly over without me even understanding the mechanics I kind of gave up. Later I randomly thought about the game again and thought "what if it's a linear list and those crystals navigate through it", and booted it up again and I'm pretty sure that's what it was (or at least it was one useful way to interpret the core mechanic). With that base perspective I could fumble my way through the different colored puzzles, too. This all might seem like negative feedback but it isn't really. I found the game to be ultimately interesting because it was so different. My feedback is really only negative if what you aimed to deliver was a traditional puzzle-game experience (say, The Witness or Snakebird). Also, I read that the game was an attempt at a "vertical slice" and I do feel it does a good job at that!
  • Functional, interesting and challenging. The concept works and there is enough for some interesting puzzles. The mechanic with "evolution" stones and "de-evolution" stones was easy to pick up on. That you made the engine is very impressive. The fact that you have an avatar in the game and can walk is not used at the moment. You could more or less just drag and drop the elements with your mouse. Maybe experiment with different shapes of planets so that managing space also becomes part of the puzzle and you can add tiles that you can only walk over in one direction etc. It gives a new dimension to the puzzle that could give you more to work with when creating levels. Sound and music can also add that little bit of extra for this game.
  • Rather more trial-and-error than I'd have liked, but a fun concept well worth pursuing.
  • It's hard to understand the mechanics, it would be great if there was better onboarding. The art looks phenomenal, and this game definitely have a lot of potential. There was no music for me, dunno if that is by design. Keep developing this! But place alot of focus on UX and tutorialization
  • The art is really nice, but not much context is given at all for how the game is played. I got stuck on the second planet and there was no help or any interface to start over, etc. If the game has audio, I wasn't hearing anything.
  • Having building puzzles involve both assembling and dismantling elements adds a new dimension to this that keeps it interesting.

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Comments

Jam Judge

At first I had a really hard time with this game and didn't understand it at all.

Then I came back to it and actually did understand it (mostly).

I recorded my first play session, which will probably be a bit frustrating for you to watch, but perhaps it's also illuminating since I'm narrating my thought process. I'll leave more feedback in the jury form, too, with reflections after my second playthrough where I understood enough to complete all levels.

Developer (2 edits)

It was indeed very interesting to watch, and also sparked some ideas to make the game easier to understand while not giving away solutions to puzzles.

Thank you very much!

Jam Judge

This has a lot of potential, but it doesn't do a great job of explaining or introducing puzzle concepts. I got stuck on the fourth planet l tried, which can't be good. Up until then, it was all trial and error.

Developer (1 edit)

I'm sorry you didn't have a good time playing the game. Although we were expecting some people to get stuck, that wasn’t the intent of the design. I mean, we wanted people to get a bit stuck, but then figure out how to get unstuck. I agree that this was probably not a good choice of design given the context but nonetheless that was the design we went for.

If you didn’t already, I suggest replaying the levels you finished by trial and error and figure out why *that* was the solution or even play another sequence. I promise, there is a well defined logic behind the game.

If you have some time, please stop by our booth in gather town and help us improving the levels.

Filippo

Jam Judge(+1)

I figured out why the solution was what it was. That didn't help me figure out why the next solution wasn't whatever it is, though.

Developer

Then I guess the only solution that comes to mind is to add more optional levels that explore the mechanics more thoroughly. Again, sorry you got stuck :/

Thank you for the feedback!