Critical Play: Puzzles

For my critical play, I played Two Dots. Two Dots is a puzzle mobil game developed by Playdots, a small indie studio. The game features a story campaign screen, that functions as a sort of map, with the background of the map setting the themes of the story and allowing for some gameplay mechanics to be uncovered as well. It may be a cabin in the woods or a maritime themed background, each level then is a stepping stone in the path towards completing the overall chapter or map. The game itself centers around connecting dots of the same color, horizontally or vertically and at a 90 degree angle however not diagonally. Once the dots are connected, they’re collected, destroyed, and replaced by new dots which drop from the top of the screen. Each level has a quota for the amounts of dots of each color which must be collected in order to beat the level and a limit to the amount of moves that may be performed in order to meet these goals. Each level also has different structures, layouts and abilities available to the player. Some levels place blocks which separate the dots on the screen in various ways, making it impossible to form some connections or favoring certain connections, while other power ups or super dots allow area of effect buffs that “explode” to collect more dots than possible through the regular connection means.

The difficulty of the puzzles stem from making changes and permutations to the exciting mechanics/level layouts to favor certain strategies or forcing the player to make use of new mechanics. The amount of dots that must be collected and the number of movements available to the player are also parameters that may be modified, however they seemed to remain quite reachable and not overwhelming or too pressuring, which combined with the cartoonish, colorful and simplistic art design and music of the game and maps adds to the fund of abnegation championed by the game. The puzzles itself while challenging enough to be engaging, don’t seem impossible to solve, in fact whenever you run out of moves, it seems that you were simply one or teo moves away from “getting it” and this encourages the player to try again more often and play for longer periods as chapters become easier to completely

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