They say that fish is brain food, but I'll wager that games can feed your head just as well. (Although perhaps won't be as tasty baked in parmesan and bread crumbs.) For this week's edition of the Vault, I wanted to pull out some of my favourite games that tickle your gray matter in different ways. One is an abstract surreal adventure duo, another is a tricky puzzle platformer, and the last one is a straight-up logic puzzle designed to give your brain a workout. All different executions of different ideas with one shared goal; to get you thinking in different ways. Hey, don't get me wrong; at the end of the day I am totally all about Erasure, but there's still something to be said for something that takes for you longer than it takes a song to run its course.
- Menulis and Miestas - Alright, maybe this is actually cheating a little, since this is not one but two classy and weird adventure games from Jurgis Jonaitis and Justinas Malijonis. Some of my favourite games aren't the ones that deluge you in flash and production values, but instead just offer the sort of unique, stand-out experience that is subtle, distinctive, and memorable. Both games follow the very surreal adventures of a man in a trenchcoat, and both are presented in hand-drawn style, accompanied by smooth jazzy soundtracks. Playing these games is a lot like watching a foreign movie without subtitles; while it might be strange and confusing, there's something beautiful about all of it, and it's more fun to fill in the blanks yourself.
- Mindscape - While it takes a while to really engage you and showcase what it has to offer, Manuel Fallman's puzzle platforming tale of hyperactive pink rabbits, floating candy, upper-cutting monkeys and disaffected robots really should be experienced. I don't know why you'd want to break out of a world full of candy, even if it does have free-roaming angry monkeys, but that's the goal here. Mindscape is quirky and silly, and also shows off a surprisingly nifty gravity-flipping mechanic. It's still a fairly simple platformer, but it's just a simply well-done variation on the genre with a lot of psychedelic character.
- Slither Link - For me, straight-up puzzle games are always at their best when they can be summed up in a sentence or two. Like this one, from Luke Harrison, where the goal is just to link dots around squares by drawing lines... with a few easy rules to keep in mind. It's that level of approachability that always seems to sucker in the most players, and will usually keep you playing for a lot longer than any puzzle game that requires a rule book spread on your lap possibly could. By keeping its core gameplay so simple, Slither Link can create some remarkably challenging levels that make it the perfect bit of brain exercise for puzzle fanatics of all challenge levels. (Please note that Slither Link is not responsible for any jail time you might incur for punching your loved ones right in their smug faces after they ask, "Why is that taking you so long to solve? It looks so easy.")
While we welcome any comments about this weekly feature here, we do ask that if you need any help with the individual games, please post your questions on that game's review page. Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and rediscover some awesome!