I went to school for video game development, and one of the recurring themes of game design was to start simple, and work your way up. And while it’s true that many video games nowadays are pure spectacle, there are those who love to make the more simple games, the ones that test you in ways without making you think about it until it happens. Such is the case with the recently released Skipper. The game is on Steam now, and it’s definitely worth the pickup.
At its core, Skipper is about you controlling a block (or blocks), and getting them to a certain point on the level. But like a trap, it’s not that easy. You see, each block is color-coated, and when it moves, it leaves a mark behind, and a block can not move onto a tile that has its color. So, you have to maneuver around, and make sure that you get onto the right path, but again, it’s not that simple.
As you progress through the 30+ levels, you’re going to find yourself challenged in unique ways. While you start out with one block, you’ll seen get three, and have to alternate between them to help fix the path you need to reach the end. Obstacles will also become a problem. Some tiles will need small cubes brought to them in order to disappear, sometimes you’ll have to deal with switches that’ll raise and lower obstacles, and on and on it goes.
Make no mistake, this game may be easy to play but you will be tested as you try and figure it out. Even the slightest of miscues can end your run on the level. But, they make it easy to restart, as a push of a button resets everything so you can try again. And trust me, you WILL try again multiple times as the levels get more complicated.
Something to admire about the game aside from the simple yet challenging gameplay is the simple but fun graphics. As the team notes, it’s a “low-poly” approach, and it works. Which is great, because it doesn’t need to be overly complicated, it honestly wouldn’t add too much. Now, that doesn’t mean there isn’t stuff to see and view here in Skipper, just the opposite. The levels are set on a beach of sorts, and you’ll get to see the oceans wash up and down the shoreline as you try and figure things out. What’s more, there are tiny little special effects that’ll add to the fun of the visuals. When you complete a level for instance, your cube “disintegrates” into other cubes. When you’re stuck on a cube, you can see water drip down if you try and get out of it, and stuff like that.
This brings me to another key point about the game, the audio. Puzzle games are meant to challenge you for sure, but with Skippers, it actually works really hard to make sure that your frustration doesn’t overwhelm you, and they do this through the background music. The tracks are very calming, and almost sounds like the ambient noise that you would have on a beach. This brings a calming feeling as you play, as you can get lost in the audio all the while focusing on the game itself.
Now, Skipper isn’t perfect, because of the isometric layout of the system, it can be hard at times to remember which arrow key moves in what direction. Also, at times, we had glitches were switches would do an action twice, essentially forcing us to start over. And while 30+ levels may seem like a lot, you’ll likely only spend a few hours on the game.
In the end though, Skipper is simple, elegant, challenging, and fun. If you’re looking for a title to test your skills in a mental way, then you should definitely check this out.