I’ve got a soft spot for puzzle games, and the indie scene is a fantastic place to find games presenting puzzles in new and innovative ways.
However, elaine truly surprised me, not only for its remarkable difficulty, but also its brilliant design. What appears to be a strange version of color match with a pulsing electronic soundtrack quickly reveals itself to be a test of coordination, memory, perspective and reflexes, all at the same time.
Frantically guide your player tile around a sensile platform and match the incoming pattern in time. In this deceptively simple game, you’ll have to deal with a shifting screen, multi-colored patterns of increasing speed and complexity, and an unrelenting countdown timer synced to brain-pumping music.
elaine has an incredibly simple premise: You have to match the color and position of a number of squares in a short amount of time. As you progress, more colors are added. The game ends when time runs out on the clock. Sounds easy, right?
The perspective you’re given of the solution is just slightly off enough to require a little bit of adjustment, and you’re given a remarkably small amount of time to complete the puzzle. As you progress, more and more colors are added, and you’ll need to cycle through them in the right order while moving to match things up. Make a mistake? Suddenly those spots have disappeared. Get the next puzzle correct and they’ll return, but fail too many times and you’ll be working with a very small playing area.
The mechanics of elaine may be simple, but they’re executed so precisely and accurately that they cannot help but be compelling. It took me quite a few tries before I figured things out, and it felt frustrating before then, but once things clicked, I was entranced, driven even, to keep playing.
elaine is entirely fair. all the rules are laid out to you, and its as clear as…well, colors on a white board… what you need to do. And while you may fail and fail and fail again, you can feel yourself making new connections, learning tricks on how to look at specific orientations, your fingers getting ever so faster. That sense of improvement and learning is infectious and breeds a competitive spirit to improve.
elaine’s absolutely amazing soundtrack, and only helps to keep you driven. The pulsing electronic beats urge you to move faster and faster, pushing yourself to get the combinations of color and position correct. It puts you into a frantic, trance-like state. Time seems to slow slightly, and you’ll feel yourself putting up blinders to the rest of the world, concentrating completely on lining up the fluorescent blocks creeping towards you.
elaine has two game modes, an arcade and a classic mode . Mechanically, there’s not a tons of difference. Arcade will see you going for as high a score as possible, while classic mode is more of a last as long/get as far kind of affair. Personally, I found the competitive spirit taking over and arcade move claimed most of my time, and the end screen does a fantastic job of showing you how you got your score, and how far away from the next ranking you were.
elaine is challenging, and addictive. With bright, clear visuals and an amazing soundtrack, it’s a game that puzzle fans should absolutely check out, particularly if they’ve got a competitive streak.
Still not sure why it’s titled elaine though…