Lone Ghost & Cat
PhilllChabbb's puzzle game Lone Ghost & Cat is difficult, but mainly because figuring out how to play is sort of like trying to assembling Ikea furniture going by the vague drawings someone is holding up in a window across the street. As the title of the game suggests, you are a ghost. Specifically, a Patrick Swayze sort of ghost, in that you can move things by expending energy. Your goal is to climb a towering apartment building for unknown reasons, solving puzzles in each room to proceed. You use the [arrow] keys to move, [Z] to interact (mainly pushing and pulling), and [R] to restart a room. As you move physical objects, you'll notice you start to become more and more ghostly in appearance until you can't move anything any longer and you can, in fact, pass through objects. This presents a problem, since the exit on each stage only appears when you have a lot of energy, and the more you expend, the more the door dwindles. Fortunately, you can absorb energy from certain things with a lot of it to spare, such as potted plants, but holding [spacebar] near them, though doing so repeatedly can drain these things dry until they're no longer of any use to you. Where does the "cat" come in? Well, after a few stages you'll wind up with a feline companion you can have follow you around and drain the energy from things you can't, turning into a walking spectral source of ghost juice.
It's actually a fairly clever concept, making most of the compact stages a game of figuring out how to manipulate obstacles and energy sources in such a way that you can still pass through the exit. Where it ends up getting frustrating is that since the game almost completely lacks any text at all, you're sort of left to figure all the rules out yourself beyond the basic controls. That, combined with the clunky movement while trying to move objects around obstacles, and what feels like extremely strict energy availability in some stages, makes Lone Ghost & Cat feel like a game that's pushing back against you rather than merely challenging you. It's a shame, since there's otherwise a lot to like about the game, and not just its colourful pixel design. It feels like there's a lot of methaphor and unspoken narrative to the game's, uh, weirder elements, which is where the lack of text actually works in the game's favour. You're largely left to infer what's happening on your own, and combined with the satisfying little "ah-ha!" moments you'll get when you figure out how to use or circumvent a new mechanic or obstacle, that makes Lone Ghost & Cat an odd but merrily surreal little puzzle game well worth checking out.