Of all the literature I used to discover off of elementary school reading lists, one book sticks in my head, even to this day: A Wrinkle in Time. To be honest, I'm rather murky on the plot details, my memory of the characters doesn't extend too far beyond a Mrs. Who (she was there, right?), and don't even ask me about the themes. But one illustration I remember quite well, in my particular edition: a character demonstrates how they can travel great distances in virtually no time at all. They produce an ant, and then goad it along a length of string like a tightrope. The character then brings the two ends of the string together, and presto! You've got a tidy explanation for an awfully complex phenomenon. Thankfully, a game has traded in the ants and string for an even simpler and more entertaining experience. Welcome to Continuity, an exquisite puzzler from Nils Stefan Bertil.
Every level contains a pristine red door, only usable for exiting purposes after one or more red keys have been collected. Sounds straightforward enough, but it's funny just how much this game will twist your perceptions of both straight and forward. All levels are composed of a number of squares, shiftable in a manner akin to a sliding tile puzzle. Each square contains a finite fraction of the overall level itself, and the key to victory lies in prudent transfigurations of the landscape.
The [arrow] keys shuffle the squares about in the all-encompassing view, while those same keys navigate your stick figure hero for platforming. Tap [space] to switch between those two perspectives, and that's just about it for controls. You can't just pair up any old squares; any black line/feature must continue seamlessly into the adjacent square you hope to travel to, or else your character will slam right into the border of the square with no place to go. Falling off of the bottom of a square into an incompatible one results in a quick warp back to the start (or to the position of the last key you picked up). You didn't think you could just skip from here to there to any place you wanted, did you? That's how unlucky teleporters reappear halfway through a wall, y'know. Although I don't think that happened in A Wrinkle in Time... I feel like I would have at least remembered something like that.
Analysis: Let the records show that Continuity is one of the most effortlessly enjoyable puzzle games on the Web to date. It manages to waltz right over all the pitfalls that plague so many an entry in this genre. For example, failure in this game never burns that bad, because you're only ever a hop, skip, and a tile-swap away from right where you were before. Of course, the levels eventually get longer and scarier, but never does it feel like you need to retrace an hour of work because of a single misstep, and the key-checkpoint system is usually generous.
The puzzles here require you to think with a lobe of your brain you may not use too often. It's like an M.C. Escher drawing in two dimensions, requiring you to discard your silly notions of upstairs and downstairs and realize they're just stairs, independent of direction or space or any other of our countless, conditioned reference frames. If you can program your mind to work in such alien modes, then you'll be right at home. Even if you can't, the bulk of levels early on shouldn't be too mentally taxing, and by the time you've arrived at the later labyrinths, your Escher-O-Vision ought to be all warmed up.
It's not just the puzzling where this game shines, though. The visuals are simple, but functionally effective. Anything more complicated than black on another color would have only made the proper square transitions harder to perceive. The music adds a lovely backdrop; there's a soft twinkling of sound for the level manipulation, accompanied by some action-packed techno beats for your up-close platforming. Add to that some ingenious level design and a nifty menu function that lets you skip insurmountable levels, and I think there's a superior candidate here for a potential mobile game. There's something just so clean and elegant about it, and isn't there an almost touch-screen quality to the sliding of the tiles?
Well, I think so. Sure beats ants and string, anyway.