Tonypa has a well-earned reputation for developing games that at once exhibit simple elegance and deceptively deep gameplay. Lacotipa, a tile-based puzzle with roots that extend back to Pipe Dreams, most definitely stands as a solid addition to Tonypa's already considerable stable.
The goal in Lacotipa is simple enough. You are presented with a board with at least one tile on it. Each tile has anywhere from zero to four connectors that point up, down, left, or right (for clarification, the zero tiles show up on later levels and are automatically placed on the board as a sort of obstacle). Your job is to eventually close off all paths created by the connectors using one of the five available tiles at the bottom of the screen. Closing off a path can be done by connecting a capping tile to a connector, using connectors to form closed loops, or by successfully directing a pathway to the edge of the playing field. As the old adage goes, learning to play is easy, mastery is not.
Tonypa strikes a wonderful balance of luck and skill here. The randomly chosen tiles for you to place and the inability to rotate tiles takes at least a portion of your fate out of your hands. This does not hamstring you completely, but instead forces you to think about the puzzle differently, playing a game of probability with each potential path you create. Plus, you are given all the time in the world to plot out your moves. Thus a rather old style of puzzle/strategy game is injected with a new twist that can be quite addicting.
Complementing the gameplay is Tonypa's trademark minimalist approach to aesthetics and smooth theme music, here provided by Kevin Macleod as usual. Tiles are little more than stylized icons, admirable in their own way for their quiet beauty, and yet they don't distract the slightest bit from play. Meanwhile the cool jungle beat in the background is pleasant, unobtrusive, and imminently listenable.
Perhaps the one quibble we had was that the instructions could be made a little more clear; some of us didn't realize that using the edge of the playing field was a valid option until we had already lost a frustratingly large amount of games. But aside from that, Tonypa has produced yet another simple, beautiful, and addicting game for us to obsess over.
Thanks to Shannon for sending this one in! =)