English Country Tune

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Rating: 4.9/5 (21 votes)
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English Country Tune

JohnBIf you've spent any time around the indie gaming scene, you're familiar with the name increpare (Opera Omnia, City of Day and Night), also known as Stephen Lavelle. Known for creating short, small, creative and artistic-type games, increpare has jumped from the realm of experimental games to the world of full-fledged releases, unleashing the fantastic English Country Tune for the world to scratch their collective heads over. The game looks fantastic and plays like several of your favorite logic puzzle games rolled into one superb, pseudo-3D package.

English Country TuneEnglish Country Tune starts simple enough with a few puzzles that are not unlike sokoban. As a small blue tile, you can roll yourself over bits of the grid, shoving little balls called larva as you go. Each larva has its own rules of gravity, so depending on its location, your location, and from which direction you slap it, the ball might fall in completely different directions. This makes a huge difference because the game takes place in a 3D world, even though your movements are largely confined to flat planes. Move the larva into their targets and, if it's there, get yourself to the goal to complete the level.

After the larva world is complete, you get to head off to a new kind of puzzle: setting "whales" free! Each whale cube emits beams of light in four directions. You can't directly shove whales, but when you move against their light beams, they slide to your push. Now, try to get each one of them to the edge of the grid and push them off to freedom! Completing more worlds unlocks advanced versions of the above game types, as well as a few more that are purposefully obscure in design, allowing you the pleasure of figuring out what does what in this glowing 3D world. What's that button? What does it do? Why are those patterns copied to my tile?!

English Country TuneAnalysis: English Country Tune is almost a collection of puzzle games built around a strong central theme. Sometimes it feels like Theseus, sometimes sokoban, sometimes EDGE, and sometimes the equally-dazzling Puzzle Dimension. All of the time, though, it feels like a coherent experience, and the challenge from the game's smartly-crafted levels never lets you drop your guard or slide through a stage without putting serious thought into the solution.

English Country Tune is a no-pressure sort of game. Your movements aren't tracked and compared with everyone else in the world, and the time you spent solving a level isn't tallied and shoved in your face to show you how awful you are after each level. For these reasons and many more, this is an excellent game to play in a casual manner. Pick it up, play a few levels, put it down and come back whenever you like. The experience is relaxing (except for a few levels) and the presentation is soft and subdued, creating the perfect atmosphere for solving spatial/pattern puzzles.

To put it bluntly: English Country Tune is an amazing puzzle game. Its construction provides variety without feeling like a collection of mini-games, and the challenge level is such that you're always thinking but (almost) never frustrated. The visual design keeps your eyes fascinated by the screen, and to top it all off, the 3D aspect really does add something to the game. If you even have the slightest interest in puzzle games, grabbing English Country Tune is a smart decision!

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Mac OS XMac OS X:
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I had a chance to play through this in its entirety and it is very excellent.

This is a lovely game. The number of levels will ensure you several hours of enjoyment, a bargain for the asking price.

The variety of the levels is really quite staggering. You'll quickly be introduced to some rather unexpected mechanics, and a few levels will just leave you stunned as you try to figure out upon what you've managed to stumble.

There are a few levels that require quick reflexes to avoid moving obstacles, but these are very few in number (less than five) and the moving obstacles have obvious patterns so you will know when you are 'safe'.

The majority of the puzzles will require a few attempts to get right. A handful of them are downright mind bending, but it's nothing a moderately skilled puzzler cannot handle. As you progress you'll unlock branching paths, so if you get stuck on a difficult puzzle you can often leave it to simmer for a while and pursue a different direction. I was able to complete every level without resorting to hints of any kind.

If you're a fan of Sokoban style block puzzlers I very strongly urge you to take a look at this game. It gets so much deeper than the larva and whales you encounter early on.

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Grasa Total December 5, 2011 9:12 AM

Does anyone know if the iPhone version has all the same levels as the Mac version, and if the touch controls are workable? Paying half the price of the desktop version is appealing, but... well, I'm curious.

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increpare December 6, 2011 5:12 AM

+Grasa Total, increpare here, the developer. The mobile version has exactly the same content as the desktop version. (technically, it has one additional 'tutorial' level).

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I'm having a hard time understanding the controls and navigation! It says I have completed one area but find that the game takes me back to the same place. What am I doing wrong?

By the way, I have the demo as I wanted to see how it played on my dinosaur of a computer before I bought the full version.

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I love this puzzle game, however I'm completely stuck on the 4th puzzle of L&W (the U shaped one). I've solved everything else I can and this puzzle is the only thing left I can play with.

Can anyone give me a clue or a solution please?

+Gras Total, I found the iphone controls quite intuitive, I've not played it on any other platform so I can't make any comparisons.

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increpare December 6, 2011 2:40 PM

+sc, when you finish a level it zooms out to the level select screen, and the level you just completed is highlighted. You have to manually select the next one.

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Grasa Total December 6, 2011 9:43 PM

increpare: Thank you for the response! Game duly bought. :)

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Orange Duck Author Profile Page January 16, 2012 3:58 AM

I'm still stuck on the 4th non-branching level on Advanced Larva. :(
Very fun game, though. I just wish I could get to the really impressive stuff.

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Great game.
Like Minkette, I'm also stuck in that blasted U-shaped level.

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I, too, hate the U level

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boris.dejong Author Profile Page March 26, 2012 11:42 AM

There are now a bunch of youtube videos that walkthrough the harder levels of ECTune. Yay for this. <spite> I got so flummoxed on this game, I once asked increpare through his twitter account to explain the U-shaped level... and he declined. that was upright of him i guess but in the end i lost interest in trying to find the solution by myself. what i lack in brain capacity i make up for by having a life, thanks.

Now back to playing this great puzzler.

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