I Lost Time

I managed to lose about an hour of my afternoon playing this rather great puzzle game called, I think, Top Hero (note: I did have a bit of trouble running it in Chrome, but it was fine in Firefox).

It’s kind of like a tower defense game, but with more of a narrative, D&D angle on it. So, you have a little map, and there’s a token representing a “hero” and another representing his “exit” from your dungeon. You’re meant to place your various traps (e.g. a monkey that steals his sword) and monsters (e.g. a snake that takes three points off) along the hero’s path in order to make sure he dies before he makes it out. With variations such as forking paths, spare suits of armour the hero can pick up, and so on.

What weirds me out about the game is that, for me at least, it creates a tension between pure “puzzle” (e.g. Sudoku), and something more like a game (e.g. A Game). That is, when I was playing it, I constantly felt like I should just be able to lay down the tokens in a logical fashion, and “solve the puzzle”. But then I found out that I basically could never do that (I may have done it once on the simplest level), and that in fact I ended up playing around with positioning the tokens and seeing what happened.

Because of the graphical style of the game, I think it “pretends” to be more of a puzzle than it perhaps is? (Although it’s also plausible I’m crapper than most people and that it is just a puzzle that people can solve.) On the other hand, the mechanics going on here are really nice, and you have to wonder how they would transfer into a more obviously “game-like” representation. The puzzles are really satisfying to try and figure out, and you can imagine all kinds of isomorphic versions that could be super exciting and would make for some seriously puzzling action.

Let me know if you figure out how to beat the last level. Then again, I probably wouldn’t understand how you did it, anyway, and it seems like that’s kind of the point – to know how to win, rather than to stumble into it.

19 April 2010
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