Perfection Isn’t, But Still A Quiet, Calming Puzzler

By John Walker on September 4th, 2013 at 4:00 pm.

Well, no it quite clearly isn't.

Perfection is a silly name to give a game. It’s asking for trouble. It’s also an extremely odd choice for this peculiar-yet-enticing puzzle game, since it absolutely does not require anything close. Instead this is about chopping up odd geometric shapes to approximate a target shape. It should have been called Approximate. And then it would have avoided all this complaining.

It’s in an odd state, is Perfection. The concept is extremely simple – you start with one shape, and with a minimal number of straight-line slices, you want to hack it to match another. The frame of the target floats awkwardly, so you can’t just use it as a template, and away you go. This is presented with a pleasingly calming design, soft focus, pastels, plinky-plonky music, and everything’s in place for a nice puzzler. Except any sort of structure.

There are three types of puzzle. It begins with the very simple where you simply chop the stationary shape to match. Then you can add rotation, to add a welcome layer of complexity. And then there’s zooming too, so you have to shrink or grow the shape as well as everything else. Which are all splendid, exactly as it should be. If only there were any notion of progress, levels, goals, or direction.

Instead it just starts to suggest you might want to try another type with its esoteric floating indicators, chosen from a menu containing absolutely unexplained hieroglyphics. One button appears to change the puzzle you’re playing, but for why? To what? Why would you want to press it? And where is it all going?

Sadly the obvious structure of a series of increasingly difficult challenges is completely absent, meaning you get stuck in an endless parade of near-identical challenges, going back and forth in difficulty seemingly at random. And that’s because they’re randomly generated. Which in so many ways is a good thing, except when it starts taking things away. I would love to see a significant update here – where creator Greg Lobanov (whose company is called Dumb And Fat, creator of 2012’s Phantasmaburbia) lets it generate all manner of puzzles and then picks out a bunch of ascending challenges. Randomly generated should always be an option in there, but a plotted path through which you could progress would make this a far more satisfying thing. As it is, all too quickly you realise the futility of your slicing, knowing it’s an infinite pool and you’re getting absolutely nowhere.

This is all getting a bit philosophical, and for £2 it’s extremely well priced. And I certainly enjoyed sinking a good while into hacking and slashing those shapes. But then the chasm became too apparent, and the realisation that it wasn’t going to get any harder than it currently is meant I lost interest. I want that interest to be maintained, so I’d love to see some structure added in. Let alone the mad name.

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  1. Randomer says:

    It’s got a lovely little soundtrack (ambient electronic with a bit of energy), which is available for free via OCRemix.

  2. aronbarco says:

    Funny enough (or not), I’m working on a PhD thesis that touches the subject of the so called perfection of geometrical shapes as opposed to rough reality. As you have noticed, there is a lot of philosophical problems lurking around, specially problems in philosophy of mathematics.

    Here is a part of this loooooong story:

    In Euclidean geometry 2πR is the rule for a well-formed circumference. Comparatively, in our visual experience we can draw a circle with a string fixed in a point and it will be a circle, with all the rigour.

    Now, why should we consider this string-made circumference a ‘rough approximation’ of the ‘perfect’ geometrical circle? Everything in visual experience is just coloured blots, therefore there is no standard for precision — I cannot, in this sense, see a perfect circle neither I can see approximations of a perfect circle.

    It is a great conceptual confusion trying to apply Euclidean geometry to testimonies about visual perceptions or, conversely, trying to establish that Euclidean geometry is extracted from such testimonies by some idealization process. Both attempts confuse the appropriate use of the words ‘space’ and ‘geometry’, which has different grammars in mathematics and in phenomenology.

    • Koozer says:

      Does the application of perfect geometries count for engineering? For example an engine cylinder and piston would not work efficiently if both were not machined to be as close to perfectly circular as possible. Our squishy, jelly-filled human eyeballs may be incapable of viewing perfection, but we can still strive for, measure, and make use of perfection surely?

      • aronbarco says:

        Koozer, I’m distrusting ideal platonic perfection, not engineers’ perfection. If anything, math should be running on engineering and physics, not the other way around (higher set theory is madness).

        Oh, is best if I don’t start talking about all that is involved in this subject… but if you are really interested, I can recommend some readings. Unfortunately my thesis is not among them; I still have a long way to go.

    • riverman says:

      I come here to escape merleau-ponty. get out of my head, charles

    • Randomer says:

      This is why I love the RPS community.

    • meepmeep says:

      Both attempts confuse the appropriate use of the words ‘space’ and ‘geometry’, which has different grammars in mathematics and in phenomenology.

      I think this sentence has different grammars to English.

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    Volpe says:

    I feel a tactile element to this game is lost from the ios to the pc version as it is very satisfying swiping away confidently on the touchscreen with your fingertip, makes you feel much akin to a music conductor if you slice both elegantly and accurately into the desired shape.

  4. KungFuMassa says:

    This game recently won the Level Up competition. Which I no longer work on but am inordinately proud of: Linky-poo

  5. SominiTheCommenter says:

    Maybe I’m just being obtuse, but isn’t this acute game?