For this critical play, I played Factory Balls, a casual indie logic puzzle game developed by Bart Bonte. It is available on Steam, itch.io, Kartridge, App Store, and Google Play, and I played it in-browser. The target audience is listed as 4+ on the App Store.
Important Formal Elements
Factory Balls is a single player game. The objective of the game is to solve the logic puzzle, which means to recreate a given ball using different paint buckets and items (belts, caps, etc.), which are your resources and also your boundaries. There are 25 different levels with different goal balls, and at each level, you either solve the puzzle or not.
Mechanics and type of fun
A major type of fun in this game is Challenge. Fundamentally, the player is trying to find a solution to the logic puzzle. Each following level consists of a new goal ball that is a little bit more difficult than the previous, meaning the level of challenge is also gradually increasing as the player progresses through the game. For me, the game certainly met this goal. The initial example (the game steps you through one example solution for a simple puzzle), as well as the easy-to-solve early puzzles, helps onboard the player. With each level, there is added difficulty of several mechanics, whether that be more paint layers, different shapes overlaid onto different shapes meaning different items used, etc. Embarrassingly, even though the game is incredibly simple, I felt stumped, even quite early on. The gradual challenge that I experienced as a result of levels and onboarding, especially with the simple mechanics of the game, motivated me to actively want to keep attempting different solutions and improving my way of thinking to better solve the puzzle as I encountered and anticipated more difficult levels. In the same vein, every time I successfully solved a level after spending what felt like a good amount of time and many tries, it felt like a small yet epic win.
Idea for improvement
I often felt annoyed and lazy to have to manually reset my ball (click on each paint bucket or item in order). This happened often early on when I was still getting used to figuring out how to solve the puzzles. A reset button might relieve this annoyance of having to undo every action.