Factory Balls is a logic puzzle game by Bart Bonte that can be played on Windows, iOS, Android, and in a browser. The game is rated 4+ on the iOS App Store and rated safe for all ages on the Google Play Store. The simple premise and mechanics, and cartoon-like graphics, make it best suited for younger audiences.
Each level gives the player a blank ball, a goal image of the ball with a specific design, and a set of actions with which the surface of the ball can be manipulated, such as adding a color or texture, or an object that can placed on the ball to obscure a part of its surface. The goal of the level is to use the actions to get the blank ball’s surface to match the design in the goal image.
Each level is an independent puzzle that needs solving, and the puzzles get progressively harder through the levels, requiring a longer and more winded series of actions to solve.
The primary mechanic is offered through action buttons that can be clicked to manipulate the blank ball. Each of these buttons has a different effect. The first 25 levels have the following actions:
- Colors: Apply the shown color onto the unobscured surface region of the ball.
- Texture builders: These include grass and flower seeds that can be sprinkled onto the unobscured surface region of the ball. These are coupled with a water sprinkler, which makes the seeds on the unobscured surface grow to the next level; each level of each seed is marked by a different texture.
- Objects: There are articles that can be placed on the ball to obscure a part of its surface. These include a construction hat that covers the top half, belts of different widths and different angles that cover a diametric surface area, glasses, eye masks, woolen caps, and vertical hemispherical lids.
- Utilities: These include a scraper that removes any color from the unobscured region, and a recycling bin that undoes all actions and reverts the ball to its blank state.
Additionally, players can click on the ball to remove the top object currently on the ball, if any.
Types of Fun
Factory Balls delivers on the challenge and submission aesthetics. Each level is an independent puzzle that needs solving, and the puzzles get progressively harder through the levels, requiring a longer and more winded series of actions to solve. Additionally, the later levels require more time to solve, and once the general concept of the level has been identified, may require the player to simply tune out and click a series of buttons, which helps deliver on abnegation.
Factory Balls uses minimalistic design to create a game that is playable and aesthetically well-crafted in terms of the colors, textures, and goal patterns. Since the game is a logic puzzle game with the primary goal being identifying the order in which certain actions must be taken to reach a goal state, the design does a good job of emphasizing the core mechanics without distracting the player with extraneous details.
I think one failure mode is that the game can get repetitive. Even though the ball designs differ, the patterns of actions needed are understandably limited. While levels may have a small addition, such as having to create an additional diagonal line, or creating a diagonal in only one quadrant, creating a diagonal line for the fifth time still feels monotonous.
The game makes a decent attempt to break this monotony by mixing up the levels: a color-based level follows a grass texture-based level, which follows a level that introduced a new action type. Changing the kinds of actions needed to solve the puzzles makes each puzzle feel more different.
I wonder if the game could borrow from the Wordle format and create a single puzzle every day. Creating some harder puzzles that take a bit longer to solve, but without the risk of creating boredom and repetition, would likely create a more fun gameplay experience.