Part first-person puzzler, part synthesiser, FRACT OSC has evolved from the mysterious musical toy that won the IGF’s Best Student Game in 2011. It’s now a paid Steam release with a more formal puzzle-game structure in which you explore a vast cave system of disconcerting geometries, full of exotic polyhedral shapes and pulsing neon tubes. Work out how to revive this world and its strange machines, and it throbs with sound and rhythm, unlocking components for a full-fledged music sequencer that you lets you compose and export your tunes. Alec found the whole experience a little austere. Here’s wot I think.
Puzzles are about epiphany, about the joy of understanding something new and achieving mastery of it. It’s what makes a puzzle different from a problem: a problem doesn’t want you to solve it. The best puzzle games need either escalation or variety to carry that sense of epiphany onwards and upwards. They prevent wonder subsiding into routine. And in that sense, FRACT falls short – the more you explore its puzzles, the less interesting they become – but the first few hours in FRACT’s alarmingly alien world may hold wonder enough to buoy you through.