Before Double Fine started heating up the Kickstarter scene, some people were already using Kickstarter to finance their projects. The 3D puzzle game, Loc, from Birnam Wood Games is one of those games. Funded on Kickstarter and now out in the wild, you may find yourself asking, “Is a Kickstarter game any good?” Well, whole Loc succeeds with its tranquil music and art, it’s also unexciting and repetitive. So the answer is a disappointing, “Sort of.”
Much like last year’s Cogs, Loc is a puzzle game in which your sole purpose is to connect multiple points with as few pieces as possible. Like the hacking mini-game from Bioshock or the recently released A Virus Named Tom, the game begins with only one dimension to work with. All you have to do is move tiles around as if it were one of those puzzles in which you try to reassemble a picture by moving tiles one at a time within a square. But instead of making a picture, you’re connecting various points. As you progress, new dimensions begin to open up until you’re trying to connect multiple points on multiples sides of a cube. The game also gets more complicated by adding more tiles, both immovable and movable.
There’s not much more to the game than that and thus it doesn’t hold up well in long play-sessions. It seems much more akin to an experience you would expect on the iOS or Android. This makes sense in some ways because Loc is coming to the iPad in September. Or it at least makes sense that Loc is coming to the iPad.
Loc is a simplistically designed game. There are three main components to the graphics: the cube, the background, and the interface. The cube is stone-like and is neither aesthetically good or bad. It just sort of exists. The background though is very pleasant and changes its color palette as you progress. The interface works and, like the cube, is styled in a stony aesthetic. Sadly, I found the interface sluggish when going between menus. Not a big deal, but when there’s already not much to a game, things like slow menus really stand out.
The area of “fun” is where I think Loc falls apart little. Puzzle games have to ride a fine line of being not so hard that they are frustrating and being hard enough that there is a sense of accomplishment. Loc feels more like an exercise in logic than anything else. I could quickly figure out what tiles I need to move. All that was left was the process of moving the tiles and moving tiles isn’t exactly thrilling. I think the main problem is that the game takes far too long before it starts to get remotely challenging. And like I said, without at least some challenge, there’s no sense of accomplishment. By the time I experienced any, I was tired of the game.
Some games aspire to be the most amazing thing you’ve ever played. Some games on the other hand, only aspire to be good-but-not-great in one particular area. Loc is the latter. If you’re in the mood for a new puzzle game, Loc might be a good choice, but I recommend waiting until the iPad version arrives. While I enjoyed some stents with the game, its monotonous design would be more at home on a portable device given that play sessions would be shorter. That said, Loc is a completely serviceable puzzle game that lacks engagement.
Jonathan is the host of the DarkCast, DarkCast Interviews, and Gamers Read. He loves books, video games, and superheroes. If he had to pick favorites, they would be Welcome to the Monkey House, Mass Effect, and Superman respectively.