Paradoxion is a classic logic puzzle game from VSBgames. Not the head-pounding hurts-your-brain kind of logic, this one's a sit and stare, look and compare sort of game. Using gems, orbs and other materials from your inventory, arrange everything on the grid to set off chain reactions that clear the board. It's a relaxing game that manages to stay challenging without resorting to timed rounds or combo systems.
A grid holding an assortment of orbs fills most of the screen, with your inventory occupying the right-hand side. Study the arrangement on the board, then click an item to grab it and place it on the grid. When three or more orbs of the same color are together (later you'll encounter more complex matching requirements), they vanish in a flash of light, pushing free orbs at the end of the chain one square away. Use this pushing effect to your advantage, creating matches that shove other orbs into their proper place to create another match that continues the trend. Step four: profit!
The order in which you place orbs is significant, however, as the pushing doesn't radiate to all sides. So, for example, if you place a green orb on the left side of two adjacent green orbs, an orb to the right would get shoved, but not on the left. It sounds awkward in writing, but in practice it's as simple as calculus. I mean, pie. Simple as pie. In later levels you'll come across orbs that need four or five in a row to create a match, gems that must be arranged in squares, teleporters, disintegrators, and of course, the titular paradox. Scary!
There are three level packs in Paradoxion, each containing 30 puzzles to complete. After the first dozen or so, the challenge really sets in, so you'll have plenty of content to keep you coming back day after day. There's also a custom level editor that allows you to play user-made levels or create and play your very own puzzles!
Analysis: Most puzzle games rely on a timer, scores or some sort of combo system to crank up the challenge. If you slip-up, you lose, so there's a constant pressure in the back of your mind to keep performing at your best. After all, it's you versus the game, right? Sometimes you just want to relax, however, and Paradoxion is the perfect game for that. No timers, high score tables, bonus multipliers, dancing panda bears, flying raccoons, smiling ice cream cones or combo meters to keep track of. Just look at the grid and work out how to clear it on your own schedule.
Even though the game is a few years old, the visuals in Paradoxion have held up quite well. Everything has a smooth, polished look to it, from the shining gems on the grid to the planets sitting quietly in the background. The music provides the perfect ambience for the thoughtful game, and after each level you'll be treated to a quote from a famous historical figure.
Paradoxion's interface can be entirely mouse-controlled, but there are a few keyboard shortcuts that make things a lot easier. Use the 0-9 keys to quick-select inventory items, the tilde button to re-select the last used slot, and the [U] key to undo your last move. Alternately you can use the mouse wheel to scroll through the inventory and choose the last-used item, but you have to visit the options screen and enable this.
If racing against the clock or forcing yourself to reach for a high score isn't your thing, Paradoxion will make your day. Its brand of logic puzzles manage to present a hefty challenge without turning on the pressure, allowing you to kick back, arrange some orbs, and achieve that satisfying zen-like sensation you get when a big chain reaction clears the grid.