TrickyCraequDevelopers kinda go out on a limb when they throw the player into a game without providing instructions. It presumes that the concept of the work is appealing enough to keep the audience more intrigued than frustrated, whilst providing enough feedback, so that players have a fighting chance in determining the game's mechanics. When it works though, it can be amazing. Craequ, a Ludum Dare 22 entry by Jonathan Whiting, is one such success. Players are dropped into a puzzling pixelated world of corridors, pushable blocks and crystal balls. However it is a world with a logic behind it. Once you figure it out, you'll feel really smart for having done so, and even smarter as you take down every challenge the game throws at you. Craequ has a quite effective interpretation of the competition's theme of "alone": the atmosphere really makes you feel that your little avatar is completely on his own. The ending does seem abrupt, but really, Craequ feels like it couldn't end any other way. Craequ is clever and has no problem assuming the player is too. That's a good combination.

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18 Comments

Craequ: The Lost Manual

  • The core gimmick behind the game is as follows: in pushing boxes around, the protagonist rearranges the map of the area around him. Only lit boxes can be moved, and the flashing box means "you are here". Standing on a vortex for a few seconds will reset the positions of the boxes.

  • The protagonist starts in the Master Puzzle. Each time he touches a large flashing crystal ball, he enters a Sub-Puzzle; his task in the Sub-Puzzle is to find and touch the large flashing crystal ball which will return him to the Master Puzzle. The flashing ball that took him there will then become fully lit, as will that room's corresponding box in the Master Puzzle.

  • You can replay Sub-Puzzles as much as you want by touching their crystal balls again. You can also return to the Master Puzzle at any time by pressing ESCAPE.

  • Some Sub-Puzzles have small flashing crystal balls. If the protagonist touches one of these, he will begin to flash for a limited time. If he then touches a dark crystal ball, it will light up and so will the room's box, making it moveable.

  • The protagonist's ultimate goal is to reach the dead-end room in the Master Puzzle, but to do so he'll have to solve all the Sub-Puzzles and thereby light up all the other rooms. Rule of thumb: when in doubt, try to get yourself someplace you haven't been yet.

One thing to add To Soniclover's guide, if you are dim like me and end at a seeming dead end.

esc will take you back to the main puzzle without losing your progress

Since I couldn't give it 4½ (for the ending), it had to have 5.

I did get really stuck on the last puzzle until

That hitting the balls beyond the room while flashing made blocks moveable, but I really enjoyed that twist

That was fun! I enjoyed the feeling of powering-up my environment and repeatedly returning to the same puzzle with small changes.

One warning, for folks who have already grasped the basic mechanics:

Using the reset square inside the sub-puzzles will reset the blocks to their original light/dark state as well as their original position. This can take some work to redo in the later puzzles! Don't use it unless you actually have the blocks in an unrecoverably scrambled state (which I'm not sure is possible in the later puzzles).

And a question:

Is there any way to do anything with the dark orbs that are inside walls? Or are they just red herrings?

For those who felt the ending was an anti-climax:

Pretend that the sphere at the end of each sub-puzzle had the text "we're sorry, but our prince is in another puzzle!" on it.

That should help.

For those who can't get started at all

You can get to another room through the doorway with the 10 blocks at the top of the screen.

The "reset" buttons don't work for me.

Oh never mind, I didn't realize I needed to stand on it for a few seconds.

How do you solve the mint green room? It's a long line of block rooms, and I can only activate the first crystal ball by running.

@Littleghost

if that is the one I think where nothing moves...I forget the colour

You activate the first ball by running to the first green blob, then think about your second move .. you need to move the "room" block in line with the next in line block, but still so you can get back to be flashing, and be quick, it needs a run and a shove and then you are golden

If that is not what you were thinking of - forget this :)

great little game, love the retro feel! (Suggestion for sequel: at the end of the main puzzle it pulls out to another greater "higher" puzzle level, which when solved pulls out to another "higher" level, which when solved pulls out to another "higher" level, and on and on... into infinity!!!!!)

I'm stuck in the teal/ blue rooms.
I don't know how to

light the orbs after the third room. I know that running to the second and third orbs without stopping doesn't work. Is there any way to make the first orb flashing?

@hhii8888:

If only you could run straight from the map room to the second or third room without the first room in between... it wouldn't take too long to stop and push one block during your sprint to the dark orb, would it?

nvm didn't see the posts before about this puzzle. anyway, finished...

That was fantastic! It was intriguing enough to start with that I stayed playing until I learned how it worked and what to do. It was like playing a regular puzzle, but also being inside the puzzle, living in the puzzle. Having the person to move around *embodied* the puzzle. This game shows how graphics and flashy are not important to good game and puzzle design.

What a great idea for a game. The game's mechanic reminds me very much of the 1997 film Cube - has anyone else seen it?

That was a fun game! But I wanted to

light up all the dark orbs.

@inhumandecency

I think the extra dark orbs are decoration.

@inspectra
I haven't seen that movie, but I think this game idea has been used many times before. I can't think of any examples at the moment.

Very pleasing game. Satisfying level of challenge throughout. It is indeed a very satisfying moment when you realise the way things are working.

I'm not sure if I'd want it expanded to a larger game or not. The core mechanic is well-explored in what there is here. I would enjoy more, but I'm not sure if there are sensible expansions that could be done to the mechanic without losing the pleasing gameplay there already is.

I'll use a spoiler, because it's more satisfying just figuring out the game mechanics on your own:

The "sliding tiles to make a path" thing reminds me a lot of "Continuity", a puzzle platformer made a while back that utilizes a similar core concept, although it's much more obvious than in this game. I recommend checking it out, if you haven't already.

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