# Chat Noir

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After a relatively long period without a new release, Taro Ito is back with a couple of fresh new games. The first is Chat Noir, a turn-based puzzle game based on a very simple idea: darken the spots to confine the cat and keep it from escaping off the edges of the play field. Each new game presents you with a random arrangement of pre-darkened spots, and the rest is up to you. While it could be argued (and perhaps even proven) that some initial arrangements are impossible to win, the game is just the kind of puzzle game I enjoy to come back to time and time again. The only thing lacking is a proper "Congratulations" animation or ending to the game.

Play Chat Noir

Wow, cool game. Difficult at first, then ultimately very satisfying the crush of that darn cat between my spots of power!

Basic Tip:

Don't put a spot right by the cat if you can help it, try and form a wall in the direction the cat is going, preferably using some of the preset spots.

This is incredibly difficult. I seem to lose almost right away.

Repost: finally beat one game. I don't know if I can do it again.

Bahhh! I can't win. Stupid cat.... or I guess smart cat, stupid me?

I won! I won! Oh my gosh, it feels so good. It seems that you really have to be lucky with the starting position of your filled spots, and follow Wulfo's hint of filling in spots far from your cat that are in the direction he's heading. Meow.

pretty fun little game. but once you figure it out, its pretty easy. only took me a couple of tries.

Cute. This is essentially the game of Quadraphage ("Hexaphage"?) on a hexagonal grid, which is a take I hadn't thought of before. Quadraphage is well-studied among the recreational math community, and those looking for interesting results might first consult Winning Ways for your Mathematical Plays.

This paper has some neat results on the hexagonal grid (more properly, the regular triangular lattice). In particular, Corollary 4.9 suggests that if there are no starting black tiles, then no matter how big you make the board, the cat will eventually escape. Huh.

Oops! Correction. It looks like that paper was using a slightly stronger cat than the one here. I retract my second paragraph. (But you should still read the paper, because it seems interesting.)

This is surprisingly like Go.

Okay so third post. Lemme alone :-p.

Small hint:

I just wanted to say I just realized that there are certain methods you can use to sometimes ensure that the cat will not escape as he makes his way to the first edge--the method I found works about 70% of the time. Once you block his path to the first edge, you have about 75% chance of beating the puzzle. It's very interesting.

Very relaxing, and a nice casual way to pass time.

It seemed impossible at first, but once I got the hang of it I can win well over half the time.

I love this game. Right up my alley. Easy to learn, difficult to perfect. I agree with Brandon. It is suprisingly like Go. Easier to win than Go, but yes, like Go.

I found that I could heard the cat. I would click on the far side to get it moving towards the highest concentration of already placed spots, and then by clicking four ahead of the cat, narrow the "fence" down. I found that by clicking with a space in between, the cat would move there. This leap frog clicking trapped the cat more often than not.

i do not like the person i became playing this game. i think it cracked me. the cat would always get away at first and i would go crazy. finally i started to get him and i would form the most sinister smile on my face every time. i serious started scaring myself and had to stop.

Very fun game. Nice and relaxing. If only there was a way to mix things up each time (larger board/two cats or something?)

Tip:

The cat always goes for the shortest escape route. If you can narrow its route so only one more dot is needed to block it from escaping, wait until the last possible chance you have to block it -- this gives you more turns to start building a wall where you have a large opening before the cat heads in that direction

Is there a pattern in the cat's movements that i should realize to win? Because to me it seems that if the cat makes the best possible move each turn than it's pretty impossible for me to win.

OK. It seems that there are layouts that are impossible to win and there are ones that are not.
So it's down to luck - what your starting layout is.

Which is a shame, I think, for it could be a superb game - if only all the starting layouts were potentially beatable...

Brandon,

I don't think this game resembles Go the least - there, you always have a chance to win - here you don't.

One could also argue that in a game of regular solitaire (Klondike), there are starting layouts that are impossible to win, and yet that hasn't prevented the game from being one of the most often played casual games of all time.

I don't feel the 'impossible' scenario is a deal-breaker here. It's still fun to try to win, even if you don't.

But when you do, it's quite gratifying, especially if you do not win every time. :)

Well, fine - it resembles Hex, then, which also resembles Go. In any case, the idea of connection is important. If the cat is far enough away from a couple stones, those stones can be "connected" even if they're several hexes apart. Same ideas crop up in the aforementioned games.

Definitely reminds me of go/paduk, aside from the fact that the opposing player can only move one spot away from its current location. A really fun game! i like it!

I didn't really find the game all that difficult. There are certain starting formations where it is probably impossible to win, but otherwise I found it fairly easy to trap the cat. You just need to study the cat's behavior. Since the cat's behavior is constant, you can pretty much tell right away whether a setup is winnable or not and save yourself the frustration. ;)

Erm... worst game ever. Actually, I can't even call it a game: losing 99% of the "matches", and winning only by the luck of a good start constellation, that's no fun at all, it's just mindless repetition.

I rather like it. Since you start out with no instructions or tips, you have to sort of deduce how the game is played. Even when you understand what's going on, it's very difficult to win even your first game. It forces you to find the best tactics to win.

A tip for those who just can't beat a single game:

A good tactic that works 25-50% of the time for me is firstly to analyse where the darkened circles are at the starting position. Your first couple of plays are the most crucial. The cat typically moves in the path of least resistance, so to speak, so you can usually make a reasonable guess about the direction of its first move. Try to place one circle in that direction, three to four circles away from the cat's starting position (it's good if the circle in a direct line from one that you began with). Then, until he reaches your boundary, try to place circles at every OTHER circle in either direction. Once he reaches that boundary, you can fill in the circles and get a head start on him.

Nathanyel, if you're losing 99% of the matches, then you're not doing it right. I'd estimate that at least 80% of the ones I've played were winnable.

I think jay's comparison to Solitaire was apt. And in Solitaire there isn't even perfect information. At least here, you can more or less tell from the start if it's not worth trying.

Just to test my claim, I just went and played 10 matches. I beat the cat 9-1, and I'm pretty sure I could have won the other match if I'd played better. Small sample size? Sure, but I'm pretty sure it's enough to shoot down the claim that the cat wins 99% of the time.

This comes from the board game Hex co-invented by John Nash (the Beautiful Mind guy). It's a math board game with very complex strategies. However, if you've ever played any Hex or know anything about Hex strategies, the cat is very, very easy to beat over and over again. These puzzles should be winnable a very large percentage of the time. I might would wager "all the time" but i'm not certain of that. I played this many, many times and never lost.

I totally hate cats so I love this game! It is so satisfying to see the cat get all angry when it gets trapped. I with I could be a cat catcher in real life.

debaser80, that's just creepy. :o

You're all mixed up, man. Frank Black was a cat lover.

After a playing a bunch of times, I've found that my losses come from slip-ups or lapses in concentration. I think it would be nice if there was a "replay" button that allowed you to play the same configuration over again. The more I play, the more I come to feel that every formation is, in fact, beatable.

I can't prove this, of course. :)

This is a very easy game.

At the beginning, don't put spots in front of the cat, plan ahead.

Don't try building a fence around the cat, try blocking it from reaching the walls. Your fence will build up naturally as you block its successive moves.

The cat will take the shortest route to the nearest wall that it can. It does not plan ahead, it just goes for the nearest wall in terms of route steps.

Simple trick that you might want to learn on your own.

If the cat is heading for a wall, you can build a fence with holes in it. You do this by putting down a spot in between other spots, so they don't form a continuous fence. You leave a gap of one dot on either side. The cat will head for one of the gaps. You close it. Then it will head for the other, you close that one but will have lost the moves that it made towards the first gap, giving you time to build ahead. Once you've got a cat against a solid fence near one of the walls, you've won the game because you can keep it moving towards a gap but constantly blocking it.

Easy.

An empty board isn't beatable, so whether you can always win depends on whether the dot distribution is completely random.

I tried a few refreshes to find one simple enough that I could be bothered to attempt the proof, but even a board like this:

...quickly generates a fairly large tree of cases requiring analysis.

It's also complicated by the fact that I've seen the cat make a seemingly suboptimal move at least once, so even if the game's not theoretically winnable against a perfect cat it might be possible to score 100% against the game as written!

Oh ! I used to play this as a board game when I was young.
Actually, I'm usually not good at these kind of games, but I find this one pretty easy.

nice game... and now i will try that on my own cat!

Jay,

I just don't see why there couldn't all the starting layouts be potentially beatable ones? I strongly doubt it would be a complicated adjustment to make... And I also strongly doubt that anyone would like the game less without the unbeatable parts.

Of course this may grow to be a very popular game the way it is (and very probably stays), still I think it would be even more of a hit with only beatable scenarios. I myself said in my comment that I think it definitely has the potential.

PS: What you mentioned is exactly the reason I don't like/plays card solitaires - there it's even more unjust because here at least you can see right away if you have the chance to win or no - there you can't and will sometimes take a lot of your free time just to discover you had no chance right from the start... That's ... unjust.

October 18, 2007 8:41 AM

bioLarzen, you have the bitter energy of a man who "can't do it"... lol.

Dom: this is true. I was hasty when I said that all boards might be beatable. This is most probably not the case. However, a majority of the boards, I think, are beatable (just going by my win percentages). Only occasionally will I come across a formation that appears unbeatable.

I just think it would be nice to have a replay feature so we could try formations that we failed to see if they really are impossible or if we made a mistake.

I think I've gotten the hang of it! I used Wulfo's and Scramble's hints and I can win 1/2 to 2/3 of the time

My strategy:

Place a dot in the middle of the biggest "gap" between two preset dark dots, or heard the cat towards a big group of preset dots by clicking somewhere in the other direction. Then place a dot 4 spaces ahead of the direction the cat just moved. If it's still moving in that direction, place a dot two spaces away from where you just put one (so that all you have to do is put one dot between them and you have a 3-dot wall). Again, if the cat is still moving that way, put another dot two spaces on the other side of the original "4-spaces-away" dot. The cat should be close now, so you can start putting the dots between the 3 you just placed to make a 5-dot wall. From there, use common sense. Ike's "last-minute" dot strategy is extremely useful, too.

October 18, 2007 12:16 PM

hello everyone! I've been a fan of jayisgames for over a year now :) but only now i started writing here :P this was a great game, little hard first, but when you learn the technique, it's very easy

AJ,

I think there are two types of starting layouts in this game. One that cannot be beaten and one that can and these games are almost all won provided you didn't misclick accidentally. I played around 50 games, won around half of it, most of the other half were unbeatable, some were not but i fouled it up. It's not the bitterness of the ever-loser that's speaking of me but the bitterness of seeing a great game concept ruined by something so small that would be so easily "fixed".

If you want to see me bitter like a man "who can't do it" just read my comments for the game "Quadradius" - in that game I really AM the worst player ever born :DDD

This is a good concept, and has interesting applications, but it feels to me like it's missing replay value. If this was like FreeCell with numbers to represent all the different boards and a way to select boards, I'd be interested to try them all, but as-is I don't see much point in going for more than a couple wins.

bioLarzen, I see where you're coming from, but I disagree with two points. First off, you're greatly overestimating the number that can't be beaten. The more I play, the higher my estimate of the beatable percentage gets. I'm convinced that it's easily over 90% now.

Second, eliminating the unbeatable games is not such an easy fix. Determining whether a game is unbeatable is combinatorially a very, very diffucult problem. It's certainly possible to code, but it's definitely not easy. I don't think it's fair to ascribe the inclusion of the impossible configurations to laziness or oversight. More realistically, it's just hard to figure out when it's possible and when it's not.

Chat noir translates to Black Cat. It's french. This game is kinda hard. It's addictive to me though.

After a few failed games, the moment where you finally box that cat in is the most satisfying experience ever.

Around half of them are winnable for me, maybe a little more than that, without really reading everything out. That might go up if I was to actually count more often. :)

The game definitely reminds me of Go. One important thing to notice here is that the vertical one-row jumps, and their analogues diagonally are a good bit stronger than horizontal one space jumps, and their diagonal analogues, so it seems best to "zig zag" a bit when making horizontal lines. You just have to be careful about how far away you're building the wall, to make sure that you'll have enough time to finish it by the time that the cat reaches you. Sometimes you start with too few stones on the board though, in which case it's not easy to win if you guess the wrong initial direction for the cat (and sometimes hard even then).

I think we need to clarify something here, namely the term "winnable." "Winnable" means that it is mathematically possible to beat a given formation. It is an absolute idea, not a relative one. Thus there is no such thing as "winnable for me" (no offense, Cale--I'm not picking on you, really :)). Instead, we could say something like "I win about so-and-so percent of the time."

I'm inclined to agree with Hanoj on both of his points above, both that: a) the percentage of winnable formations is higher than might at first appear, and b) it is no simple matter to eliminate unwinnable boards. After all, this derives from a famous math problem, and famous math problems don't get that way by being simple to solve. But I am no mathematician, so I could be wrong.

I just played fifty games in quick succession and won 38 of them. Interestingly enough, my losses came toward the beginning and tended to happen in runs of two or three in a row. It seems to me that the more I play, the more I get into a "zone" (for lack of a better term). Possible pitfalls become easier to see and I can predict how the cat is going to move, making it fairly easy to win. It's kind of like being able to see the Matrix for what it really is, I guess.

(Although I haven't yet tried launching myself into the cat to blow it up from inside. :D)

Anyway, I know everyone is probably sick of hearing this by now... but if the author is reading the comments: please give us a replay function that will allow us to replay a given formation! I, for one, would love to be able to try different strategies on some boards to see if they truly are unwinnable.

OK, that's the last time I will say that. I promise. :)

Think of it this way: you're the cat. If any of the six diagonal sections has no blocks whatsoever, the game is simplistic: just head there and you win. However, the cat's AI does not seem to comprehend this, even though the amount of automatically winnable games is exceedingly high (for the cat).

Or think of it this way: if the cat ever gets a empty subset (1/6th) of the board heading toward one exit, the cat will automatically win. However, the cat takes a random move in the beginning. Just try to cover up the unwinnable spots and hope the cat is stupid.

If you have only 5 dots, forget it. The chances of you winning against a human opponent are zilch, and the chances of you winning against the cat are extremely low.

Become the cat...become the cat...meowreka! Lol had to do it.

Bwah: I just played a 5-dot board and won. Then I played four 4-dot boards and won the first three. I think I may have flubbed that last one, or the dots were really sparse and unfavorable this time.

I, too believe the percentage of winnable games is pretty high. I'm winning maybe 80% or more of mine. Most of my losses happen in groups like yours, Suho, that unexpectedly break a good streak I had going. maybe we just get too cocky?

I'm not a game coder (and I'm probably barely a coder at all) but I think a doable improvement would be to end the game once you have built an unbroken wall around the cat instead of having to confine it to one square. Although I can see how hunting it down like that would be enjoyable, it's a bit tedious.

Think of it this way: you're the cat. If any of the six diagonal sections has no blocks whatsoever, the game is simplistic: just head there and you win.

It's not that simple. Even if the cat moves first in such a sector the player has time to block the cat. However, that might not be a win, because the cat can then move off parallel to the edge of the sector, matching the player's moves one for one and win like that.

How close to the edge you make your barrier allows you to control when the cat turns, which lets you deliberately guide it into fleeing in a blocked direction even on the majority of board with a clear sector.

(Although I think you're right that the cat's strategy isn't perfect, but the reasons why are more subtle.)

Hanoj and Suho1004 have it right, I think. Over 90% of boards are beatable. (I average well over 80% even in practice.)

Hanoj,

I'm ready to admit that I haven't played enough games to make ganeral statements about the game. Maybe I've had too many unbeatable games and if i kept on playing the ratio would have started to favour the beatables - I don't know for i didn't keep playing. Since you seem to have played (much?) more than me you can surely see the big picture better than i do. Still the point I was trying to make does, i think, hold: why couldn't the creator of the game eliminate the possibility of unbeatable layouts? What do these layouts add to the overall joy degree? Nothing for me, at least. I accept, of course, that others (may) think differently and I'm not traying to prove that it's a bad game for everyone :)

As for your second point: I don't know how to make flash games, so, if you say that eliminating the impossible layouts is a hard thing to do then I take it as a fact. I was only assuming it can't be hard, but seems I was wrong and I'm sorry about that. And let me then reword my opinion, saying: it's a good game that has definitely has the potential to be a very good game, for example with the elimination of the impossible layouts. Knowing now that it would probably be a hard task it would only increase my appreciation towards such a version.

OK, I really must have had a very unlucky set of layouts yesterday. I played again and now I also won the majority of the times - 26 out of 30.

I don't understand why fencing the cat isn't enough and I have to torture the poor thing further by restricting it to just one circle. Poor kitty.

Other then that, nice, simple and stylish. I like it.

Baba, I figure once I've got it in an area that's completely fenced off, I just count it as a win right there and hit reset.

Every time I get the cat restricted to one square, the screen dissolves and resets. I can't figure out how to make a kill one you've got it all fenced in. What am I doing wrong?

October 20, 2007 11:16 AM

I won mostly by

making hexagons. As soon as you have the 6 corners on the board, you've won (as long as the cat is 3 space from the nearest line

Basic tips:

1 - The first click is the most important, each successive click becoming less so.
2 - make the shape you're creating as large as possible. Use the pieces in place to make OBTUSE-angled corners for the larges shape possible (needing as few extra corners as possible).
3 - unless the cat's right next to a space, only 'fortify' a line it's advancing to by filling each 2nd space.
4 - An acute-angle needs 2 filled spaces to be 'fully reliable'. So unless 2 or more pre-filled spaces exist for that corner or on that line, Using a filled-space for an acute angle doesn't help at all.
5 - Angles>180 degrees can help buy you extra time.

Dom: You might be right. I'll try to research further.

debaser80: not every game is based on killing things. This is a combinatorics game - once you fence in the kitty, you win.

One comment: I think if would be nice it the game would detect when the cat has been fenced in without having to manually box it into a single hex. Other than that I really enjoyed the game, a little frustrating at first but quite fun.

Tip:

My method is to create a porous fence with single hex holes and only close them at the very last moment.

http://img81.imageshack.us/img81/1876/45297436st5.jpg

Oh sweet victory...

Bwah: Oh, bwah. Oh sweet, sweet, simple, humorless, Bwah.

I started out with a technique recommended by many here, and have refined it significantly, significantly increasing my win percentage.

You might not have enough time to set up much of a fence with every other post that would allow you to keep one step ahead of the cat. But when you have one direction blocked for the cat, you can always keep it going in one direction. So what you need is just a corner post at every point that you want the fence to turn. You can then keep building fence just quickly enough to keep the cat from moving to the nearest edge, and when you hit the one post set up for the corner, you will have just enough time to block the cat enough to turn it 60 degrees. With just six well placed posts, you can ensure that the cat will be trapped. Take advantage of those points already placed in planning your corners.

OMG this game is soooo easy!

it always heads to the bottom right so fence the bottom and left up then over top of him hes trapped in a cage then trap him in one spot!

December 16, 2007 1:12 PM

this game is too easy i win 90% of the time

January 3, 2008 4:01 PM

I won 3 times in a row. I used Duste's tip, although I found it out on my own. I still think it's hard, and, although what you do does matter, only the cat can doom itself

Simple rules? Yes
Simple win? No.
I use the exact same strategies as most everyone and found 'em myself, too! I think the main point is to buy yourself free time while the cat is going in a doomed direction, so as to doom the rest of the directions. I personally doubt any of the dot formations with dots on more than one side are impossible, especially since previously the cat has made some REALLY stupid moves when I stupidly let it into a winnable position.

Aside from a refresh-this-level-I-did-something-really-stupid button I, being a competative person, would like to see a multiplayer version with several different gameplay modes, such as 1st to trap the cat, one person cat and one person post-laying guy, or maybe a combination of the two, or anything else I or somone else can think of. I think it would be amusing to see all you >80%ers loosing the cat because you're trying to catch it faster than the other guy ;>

Whoohoo! I won on my third try! Its a good idea to direct the cat into preset dots. Overall fun, although sometimes, you can get luck with a paticularily lucky bunch of preset dots.

March 17, 2008 3:58 AM

Different difficulties and/or grid sizes would be perfect. I love toying with the cat

May 28, 2008 4:36 PM

The first few times I played this game, I found it impossible, I thought it was unwinnable. I didn't find it via this site, so I didn't see the comments here, so I just got frustrated and stopped playing.

Then, a while later, I took up Go.

As I was playing Go one day, I found myself thinking, "This reminds me of some casual game I could never win, but I can't think which one," and one day when I was browsing this site I found it here.

I started again, this time applying Go strategies to catching the cat. And to my surprise, I now win consistently about 80-85% of the time. I haven't played Quadraphage or whatever it's called, so I don't know if it's similar.

As near as I can describe my strategy, it is as follows: Never put a shaded circle right next to the cat right away, instead form a wall along the edge of the path in the direction the cat is going.

Oh, and for one I agree with baba44713, I find it a little cruel to keep restricting the poor kitty once you've already fenced it in. But, since there's no victory message once you do that, I just follow LSN's advice, call it a win once I've successfully fenced it in, and reset.

Oh, and I have a number of things I'd like to say to debaser80, but Jay doesn't like us using that kind of language in the comments. ^_^;

July 13, 2008 12:01 PM

For a seemingly long time, I could not find a winning stratagy. I though I might have something wrong with my brain. The tips in comments here did not work for me. I include my tip now for those others, I have a 90% or better success rate now, and it seems easy .

I was trying to join the dots right away in a continuous line. Don't. Don't start near the cat/the cat will head for the most open space. Move two steps ahead of the cat then when neccesay block his escape in completing a row.

October 16, 2008 11:35 AM

this game is very nice. Even though I win 40% of the time, it is very fun. The way the starting dots are placed determine whether yo have achance to win or not.

I hate cats too. That is why it is so fun to get that cat trapped. Cats eat our chickens, especially the cute little 1-5 day old ones.. :(

Well, seems like I cant be as good as some of you guys.

STILL TRYING HARD TO MAKE THE PERFECT STRATEGY TO BEAT THE CAT 100%(this dream is too high:))

Fun game. I can casually play it for a long time without getting bored. Only trouble is, after the cat makes it's first move I can tell immediately whether or not I can win.

It isn't true that some boards cannot be beaten. I have beated a game where I started with 2 dots. This is because the cat's first move is random. I got lucky in the 2 dot case and the cat moved towards the first dot I placed. However, it is very true that some boards cannot be beaten after the first move and sometimes it comes down to luck of the cats first move to determine whether or not you can win.

I win around 90% of the games I play.

Here is my tip to you all

Do not try to make one continuous line until the cat gets to that spot. Instead, make a line with little holes that need to be filled in. When the cat gets to those holes, fill them in. A really quick and easy way to catch the cat is to leave a tunnel for it to walk through. Close off the end of the tunnel once he gets in, then block his escape. I have won several games in around 10 moves this way.

I WON!! It took me 23 tries but I finally won... Beat That Cat!

January 17, 2010 8:29 AM

I hath conquered that wicked beast with just five moves! Huzzah, huzzah! (and then 1 more to officially "win")

At this moment I believe there is no unbeatable layout in Chat Noir, as I've solved a couple of 3 dot boards. However, I could be wrong.

Of course, tips:

Death by exhaustion.

Logic is your first and last resort.

Fill non-touching parallelogram corners.

Oh, and your cursor has allergies

Fun game. :D

I have played this game over fifty times. I have won, once.
I honestly have no idea how you all are winning.
I hate the cat.

BUT I CAN'T STOP PLAYING.
NONE OF THE STRATEGIES WORK FOR ME.
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Nice game, first 10 tries I won once and then next 10 games I won them all. I don't know if any scenario in this is actually impossible.

November 8, 2011 6:35 PM

This is an entertaining game that can be a great way to waste time. I noticed people here talking about unwinnable/unbeatable formations...with no dots on the board, it is possible to beat the cat because of its stupidity. If you knew which direction it prioritized when there was an equal number of hexes, you can beat it when there aren't any starting dots. However, the real challenge is proving you can beat it if there are starting dots in a bad formation for you...

TL;DR version: It's been proven possible to beat it with 0 starting dots, but not necessarily if you start with dots.

July 5, 2012 2:02 AM

i'm wondering if the author changed this game as i found it almost ridiculously easy to win. fyi: i am rotten at this type of game, i have a kind of directional dyslexia [short story: i did time as a special ed teacher, this stuff really does exist]. i think some of the set-ups may still be close to impossible but some are simple if you just, um.....

start clicking close to the edges, not near the little cat. the closer you get to him--just like w/ his IRL counterpart--the easier it is for him to outwit you.

anyway, hope it helps.

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> Dora You've got a school assignment to finish, but all the computers are absolutely ancient, and you're totally unprepared! Despite some strange, out-of-place political talk, this point-and-click puzzle from Carmel Games offers a significant upgrade in several areas from their previous work.  ...

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