By Thom Compton 16.04.2017
MC Esher once said, "Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible. I think it's in my basement... Let me go upstairs and check." This wacky stream of logic is probably why so many games channel his unique brand of optical illusion. From Monument Valley to echochrome, Escher has been channelled in many games to take the player through seemingly impossible odds. Induction is the newest puzzle game to channel the original M.C., and with the help of a little time twist, feels like something even puzzle haters will enjoy.
For those who love simple shapes in games, Induction may just take the cake in terms of delivering an intriguing world with the simplest art. It does this by making the world feel real, as every move feels like it impacts the world around you. It doesn't change the very fabric of the world, but it's impressive how it feels that way.
Really good puzzle games never make the player feel stupid, but entice them to keep trying. Induction nails this by keeping the puzzles nicely contained to a simple - at least in terms of sheer space occupied - playing field. Don't misread that, as puzzles will occasionally feel all but impossible. It's not that the puzzles in Induction aren't challenging, it's that everything comes together to feel more soothing than menacing.
The soft music keeps everything in line, mentally, for the player. The only time the sounds get even the least bit intense is when a puzzle is solved, adding to the elation that comes with finally figuring it out. It's unfortunate that some puzzles feel a little boring, but they are so few and far between that it will never feel like what you're doing isn't productive.
That's important, especially to adults. Adults need to feel like they are contributing to the greater good of the species, like they have their own place. Induction manages to feel like a tool to better that productivity, as every single decision made is deliberate and important. The time mechanic is largely responsible for this feeling. Players will move their cube into place, and then rewind time. The starting cube is left where it was last moved, but another cube arrives to act out its previous motions.
As time goes on, new mechanics are introduced, but grasping them will come naturally, even if not at first. Because the game mostly makes players figure things out on their own, they have the opportunity to become a master at something before they're even sure it's the right thing to do. There's something to be said about a lack of tutorials and how they can damage an otherwise good experience, much as too many tutorials can. However, in Induction, the lack of tutorials is just another part of what makes you feel so smart when the level is complete.
More of a zen experience for the mind than a puzzle game, Induction lives to see you succeed. Every so often, it feels like it's not using its full potential, but this isn't like a lot of other puzzle games, which make players feel bad for having to set them down. Setting down Induction is a time to reflect on what you know and what is being asked of you, and it's so powerful that this may be one of the best puzzle games to come along in years.