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What a fun little game! Its core mechanic tickles my programmer fancy while being simple enough for anyone to pick up, the presentation has a cute stripped-down indie feeling but doesn't go weirdly overboard with it, and the developer even took the Giving What We Can pledge! Really enjoying this so far, very hard to put down.
But then (Spoilers for skull house) the skull house example is an inconsistency that doesn't nullify any effects. Both occur simultaneously. That's an example of the game breaking its own rules. If in your example, the rock cannot be a rock and key at the same time. In skull house, a rock can become a key and baba at the same time.
And again, it's not a big deal because the majority of puzzles don't have this issue. And the ones that do can be easily avoided. It's just that the ones that do have issues stand out. But, I never would have guessed this was the dev's first game, so hats off to them.
I didn't highlight your spoiler, but you bringing up that level in the context of this discussion gave me enough of a hint to figure out what I had to do, haha. And I think it's brilliant! What an awesome puzzle, I can't believe I hadn't seen that effect in my other 35 hours of playtime.
...but you're right, I'm not totally sure why it worked in that specific situation when it doesn't appear to in others. I guess "rock is rock" is a special case that nullifies other "rock is *noun*" rules due to being an infinite loop? Interesting. One thing that I haven't fully deciphered yet is exactly what order certain rules and actions are executed, and I feel like this ties into that.
The more I think about this, the more it makes sense.
Assume that, when an object is created, it executes every rule applied to it. So, if you have the rules "rock is key" and "key is baba," any rock will turn into a key, and then immediately after creation, within the same frame, turn into baba. You never even see the key.
Now imagine you have the rule "rock is rock." The rock turns into a rock, which turns into a rock, which turns into a rock, which turns into a rock, etc., infinitely, recursively. This is no good! But because there's no real practical thing that changes from a rock turning into itself an infinite number of times per instant, it's fine.
But if you have the rules "rock is rock" AND "rock is key," then Rock0 turns into Rock1 and Key1, Rock1 turns into Rock2 and Key2, Rock2 turns into Rock3 and Key3, infinitely, recursively, forever, etc. This means you're generating an infinite number of keys every instant! I'm not really sure if this technically counts as a paradox or not, because working with infinities is hard, but it makes sense why this would be an undesirable effect from a puzzle design perspective, and it makes sense why saying "rock is key" and "rock is baba" isn't really the same thing, there's no infinite recursion there.
So... maybe a little inconsistent, but in a way that at least has a logic behind it.
Where are people at in this game? I feel like it was the next indie darling for a couple of days then everyone stopped talking about it.
Me personally, I want to like the game more, but it feels like it just throws brick walls (often literally) at you so often that I find it hard to stay into it. Sometimes I'm just kind of staring at my screen for like a half hour or so making no progress before I just turn it off and play Rocket League.
I'm a few worlds into the game and I have enough puzzles unlocked right now that I can always jump to new ones when I get stuck, but it's still like... almost every new one I just kind of instantly get stuck on as well.
I think the way this game is designed especially it is easy to feel INSTANTLY stuck in a way that isn't true for most puzzle games. In most other games I at least have ideas right away, try them out, maybe they work, maybe not, sometimes feel like I'm getting closer. Here it is often open a new level, see a handful of words, stare at the screen, think... how is this even possible? Then start moving stuff around aimlessly wondering what I'm missing. Sometimes I stumble on it accidentally, sometimes it clicks, but rarely do I feel like I actually SOLVED something by working through it anymore. Not in these later ones anyway.
So yeah, I'd still say it is a good game, but it's tough to keep going back to.
I often found that randomly moving stuff around in ways that didn't immediately make sense was a good way to break myself out of my original line of thinking that had been constraining my ability to find the actual solution, yeah.
I felt like the game kept enough levels unlocked at any given time to get me from ever feeling like I wasn't making any progress at all, but now that I'm down to around 5-10 levels left unlocked, getting stumped on those has kept me from making much progress. I haven't played it in a few weeks, though, but I feel like I'm really close to the end! The end game stuff has been so cool, but there's this one level that I'm stuck on that I cannot for the life of me figure out, I must've spent four hours on it so far haha. But I still refuse to look up a guide...!
Back into it! Last night and today I cleared out a TON of levels that I was stuck on, I only have three left that are currently unlocked! And that includes the ultra hard one that I need to beat to progress, which I've probably spent... ten hours on total. I have no clue. Taking a ten week break from the game made all these other puzzles a breeze, but this last one is just impossible. I'm stumped.
Interestingly, a new level has been added in prior to Skull House that has a simpler solution to guide you into the line of logic you need for Skull House. Sounds like a lot of levels have been tweaked a bit... but not the one I'm stuck on!