When I find a game that is amazingly simple, yet still manages to be challenging and do something different, I get a stupid grin on my face. It’s like watching an underdog defeat a league champion: with all the incredibly complex and deep games out there, creating something that’s engaging and fun with only a few simple mechanics is a pretty cool acchievement.
Lines is just such a game, putting you in a somewhat passive place of setting up a series of channels and then choosing were your own lines begin. Make the longest line and you win, but don’t think this is as easy as it sounds…
Lines is an abstract ‘zen’ game puzzle experience where form is just as important as function. Place or remove dots to initiate a colorful race that fills a drawing. The color that dominates the race wins. This apparently simple concept becomes intricate quickly with 6 game modes: Point, Eraser, Rope, Knife, Mixed and Infinite.
Lines really is incredibly simple: in each level, you’re given a number of line spawns. These spawns act sort of like a liquid, flowing through each levels design once the puzzle begins. Usually, youre up against two other AI opponents with their own colored lines.
There’s an interesting kind of capture and denial strategy at work with lines, where sometimes you’ll want to use a spawn to stop an enemies line from going down a certain path, while other times you’ll want to put a spawn in to capture as much terrain as possible.
After getting a handle on the game’s initial mechanics, which doesn’t take long, you’re introduced to other factors that add to the strategy. In some levels, you’ll be asked to erase the line spawns of your enemy (Eraser), sometimes you’ll be asked to add new lengths of path (Rope), and in other levels you’ll be asked to cut existing paths (Knife).
Certain game modes will mix all of these abilities together, and while there is certainly an element of trial and error with Lines, there is also a good amount of control. That control is never over the actual line itself though, only the environment it expands in, and the entire game feels like a passive puzzler because of this, which may disappoint some gamers.
Lines has a ton of content, with 250 levels in the core game, and Level Editor built into the Steam Workshop which has a ton of player made content. Because the game is easy to grasp, I think that makes it easy to jump into the creative side of things, which is definitely a strength.
Visually, Lines is clean, clear and colorful. Everything is clearly indicated and explained visually, and its very easy to follow, once again making this a puzzle game with a very low barrier to entry. The soundtrack is also top notch, and everything works together to make the experience feel very relaxing. I never felt frustrated by a puzzle in Lines, even if i was trying to complete it for the 15th time.
Lines works on a simple concept, but executes it perfectly, presents a ton of content, and is a superb puzzler. It does feel a bit passive, which may disappoint some players, but it’s very much worth trying out if you’re looking for some colorful brain teasers.