I know I go on a bit about puzzle games, but it’s not just because I’m fond of them. I mean, I am, obviously, but I’m also fascinated by how developers manage to consistently create unique spins on familiar formulas. Like ZeGame [official site], for example. It’s a tile-based puzzler that tasks you with guiding a green block towards a blue goal across a number of levels. At first it’s straightforward, yet it quickly snowballs into a battle of wits and nerve.
Move the green block to its blue goal, okay, simple. Grey blocks act as buffers. Once you set your green cube in motion you can’t stop until you hit a buffer. Missing a buffer results in game over.
World 1 of ZeGame starts off slow. You learn the basics and get to grips with relatively straightforward tile-shifting puzzles. WASD moves your green block and the mouse lets you swivel the camera 360 degrees; left to right, above and below. Taking the quickest and shortest route home possible nets you top marks in each level’s three-star rating, and a faint crossbeam helps you line up your next move. World 1 plays out like that for 20 levels. So far, so familiar.
World 2, on the other hand, throws you headfirst into the deep end.
The stabilisers are well and truly off. There’s four green blocks on the map at once. You move them simultaneously. You’re expected to save them all, sometimes stacking two and three and four on top of one another to reach a common goal. It’s impossible. You die, and die and die. And then you work it out. And it’s wonderful.
Like any puzzle game worth its salt, ZeGame continues on like this – offering loads of scratchy-head moments, before following each one with a resounding ‘aaawwww, that’s how I do it!’. Later levels add teleporting bricks, cubes that send you hurtling in different directions, and squares that cause you to instantly explode. There’s eight worlds all told, and 160 levels, but I’m nowhere near done.
A death counter signified by a skull at the end of each stage reminds you (goads you) of how many times you’ve failed. There’s also a level editor, should you wish to create and share your own masterpieces. And all of that costs less than the price of a pint.
ZeGame is out now for Windows, Mac and Linux for £3.99/$4.99/4,99€ on Steam or direct from the game’s site. If you fancy trying a free demo first you can do so via Steam too (right-hand side of the purchase button).