[The following is a reader review by Michael, used with permission. Want to submit your own review for a game we haven't covered? Use our submission form!]
TIS-100 is an indie puzzle game from Zachtronics, the developer of Infinifactory, Ironclad Tactics and SpaceChem. You're given a literal manual for the titular computer, a "massively parallel computer architecture comprised of non-uniformly interconnected heterogeneous nodes", and tasked with using the information gleaned from that manual to not only properly code and complete puzzles as efficiently as possible, all under a very serious guise of realism, but also potentially discovering who really built the machine, and why. Anyone who played SpaceChem will notice similarities between that game and this latest effort, as they follow the same spirit of game design. If you enjoyed SpaceChem for its brain-bendingly difficult puzzles built on abstract thinking and planning, it's likely (with one caveat) that you'll appreciate TIS-100 for the same reasons. Both games center on analyzing a problem, conceptualizing and constructing a system to transform some given inputs into a desired output, then pressing "run" and standing back to watch your system either fulfill your desires perfectly or go completely awry. Sometimes it takes several complete restarts to find the solution, but the feeling of accomplishment when you finally achieve that output can be extremely rewarding. The player must program each node individually so that they cooperate to do tasks like multiply numbers or detect maximums within a sequence. The game manual is completely in-character: a PDF of a well-used copy of the strange computer's printed instruction manual, which offers very little hand-holding for the uninitiated, instead getting right down to business describing operating parameters and detailing the game's instruction set.