Who doesn't love a good bout of mental calisthenics? Excepting Portal, mainstream puzzle games are a bit of a rare beast. Which is not to say the like is difficult to find: the indies have got your back! As always, Screenshot Saturday provides a visual glimpse of what's on the independent horizon. This week we'll see some pretty ways to strain your brain and where an excess such efforts might lead you.
Ethereal by Despawn
Ethereal is a puzzle platformer: you'll chin-scratch and ponder as you utilize a set of several disparate abilities to conquer obstacles and proceed through the world. While fitting into what's already neat genre in its own right, this game appears to be setting setting itself apart. It boasts more than just lovely visual tones - there's the makings of some true pathos in its story of wayward souls letting go of the past and finding their places in the afterlife. Keep an eye out for their Kickstarter campaign in a month or so.
Poncho by Delve Interactive
Another entry into the company of puzzlers, Poncho takes an uncharacteristic open world approach to its setting. The titular robot finds himself in a land where mankind's creations have inherited the neglected and overgrown remains of human civilization. These robots have adopted a tribal lifestyle and sense of self-adornment and now search for a purpose beyond what they were built for. Poncho seeks to instill the whimsy of childhood in players with a breadth of space to explore, interesting details for those who care to look closer, and multiple ways to accomplish your goals. The interested should check out their active Kickstarter campaign!
BLACKHOLE by FiolaSoft Studio
Future Earth's greatest threat is the increasing prevalence of dangerously close black holes. As part of the crew responsible for (somehow) erasing these, your mission turns to survival as your ship is sucked through one such phenomenon. Repairing the damage inflicted upon your ride home will require clever use of a gravity and perspective shifting mechanic as your stranded astronaut collects the nanomachines necessary for the task.
Monument Valley by ustwo
If M.C. Escher dreamt of black birds and puzzle solving, a minimalist might interpret his ideas as something like Monument Valley. This clever adventure through optical illusion has already received a rather immense amount of post-release praise, so what's it doing on an in-development outlet? Receiving new levels, of course! How they'll fit into the existing game or what their price might be is unknown, but more of a great thing is almost always welcome.
Okhlos by Coffee Powered Machine
Had enough brain teasing? Need to blow off some steam? How does leading a blob of unruly Grecians around the ancient Mediterranean world, toppling and demolishing everything in their path strike you? It's the philosophers, of course, stirring up unrest. Your contemplative rabble-rouser will sweep up individuals from all walks of life – from slaves to bureaucrats – and your band will develop according to its evolving composition. Mythical creatures and city accoutrements alike will crumble before the onslaught of your riot of malcontents. Their wrath may even follow your direction if you can manage to control them.