July 4, 2016

Six Sides of the World

Tags: A Gamedev Plays

This post is from the now defunct website “A GameDev Plays…”, copied here for posterity

Six Sides of the World is a, sometimes unbelievable cheap, fun puzzle game. It is well made and contains many challenging puzzles. Highly recommended and definitely worth picking up if it is on sale or in a bundle.

The Steam Summer sale is infamous for draining wallets with compelling bargains. In the current sale, Six Sides of the World is an incredible deal (I thought it was a mistake at first) and definitely won’t drain anything other than your time while solving its puzzles. It cost me 9 pence, that is about 15 US cents even at the current Brexit affected exchange rate. Amazingly, I earned 11 pence from selling the Steam cards dropped while playing, so I was actually paid 2 pence to play this game! Not a very good wage for a couple of hours, but still nice to be paid to play games.

Walking around the cube

Each level is played on the surface of a small cube representing a planet (thus the name). The objective is to leave the world by passing through a wormhole, but that first requires obtaining a key. The only control the player has is being able to move their avatar (a cute little spaceship) around the surface of the cube by clicking where they want it to go. The spaceship will then move to that destination via the shortest allowable path. There are colour-coded paired jump-gates which allow the player to move to otherwise inaccessible areas, such as another face of the cube. Obstacles exist in the form of various blockages, barriers & lasers (of various forms). There are also trigger pads that activate or deactivate jump-gates, barriers and lasers. To help planning the player can rotate the camera around the cube to see what is on the other faces.

Thus the players plots a path through the obstacles to the key and wormhole. The reward is unlocking the next level. There is no score or stars, just progress through the game. I find this works well, completing the puzzle is enough of an achievement as some can be quite challenging. A couple of times I found myself thinking that a particular level would require some concentration - the sign of a successful puzzle! And the game gives you the time to think and plan. There is no timer and the player can take as long as required. Very handy for someone (like me!) with slow reflexes. Each level takes only about a minute once the solution is known, but the harder levels have taken me nearly 20 minutes to work out that solution. I have played for a couple of hours to get through about a quarter of the game. The levels are getting harder, so there will be many more hours of entertainment yet. Also some levels have two paths and two wormholes. The extra exits lead to extra normal levels or, more rarely, bonus levels. So the player has the choice to rush for the finish, have a completionist attitude, or something in between.

Impossible path

The game has a sci-fi theme. Each level is a new (cube) planet (some with trees) and the obstacles are lasers or force barriers. At the end of each level is a short passage of text progressing a story. Although it seems mainly concerned with how strange the galaxy is, and whether it has been constructed. I largely ignored the story, and it didn’t seem to have any effect on the game (I suspect it was added after the game was largely finished).

Just some of the levels

There are many instances of good design in this game. The difficulty ramps up nicely and the bonus levels are a nice touch. The jump-gates are nicely colour-coded, except in the bonus levels. There the jump-gates are still paired, but the player can’t tell in advance where they lead - all of them appear white. To help convey this change, the whole level is displayed in black & white. Thus the player can see that it not the jump-gates that have changed, they are still paired, instead it is the player’s perception of the whole level that has altered. The levels are well-designed, I have yet to find any dead-ends in a level. There always seems to be a way to keep going (assuming the spaceship is not struck by a laser) despite going the wrong way and getting yourself stuck in a corner. I also like the handy “jump to player” button so that the camera never gets lost.

Six Sides of the World is a beautiful, simple game, well-executed.

Six Sides of the World is out now on Steam (for PC only) for UK£0.09 in the Summer Sale, it is UK£5.59 normally (Steam store page and my Steam review). It has been bundled.

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