Critical Play – Puzzles

For this week’s critical play, I played the game “Factory Balls”, a puzzle game published by Bart Bonte. In this game, you use trial and error to solve 14 challenges where the goal is to create a ball that matches the picture on the box. 

This game has few mechanics and it is very easy to pick up. You are presented with three choices, such as “color black”, “color yellow”, and “glasses/no glasses”. From there, you use logic to switch on and off between these options to try and get the optimal ball. This rather clear objective locks players in very fast and keeps them motivated to complete the challenge at stake. However, while this objective seems very easy at the beginning, it gets harder and harder with each level. Players can easily get frustrated at how simple the design looks. Therefore, the primary mechanic of this game is a trial and error approach, where players must experiment with different choices with different sequences. 


This simple, yet very challenging and frustrating game can be enjoyed by kids and adults of all ages. By creating very simple and colorful puzzles that incrementally get harder to solve, the intentional mechanics of this game create the engagement. When a player solves the challenge, they get a strong feeling of accomplishment that drives them to the next level, despite that one getting more challenging. This trial and error loop therefore drives the game, as frustration repeatedly builds up within each level.

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