Aqui Griffin delivered a visually stunning entry to our recent game design competition that is as easy to pick-up and play as it is to look at. enQbate is a simple puzzle game in which the objective is to highlight all cells in play by mousing over each with the cursor and then clicking.
As with most of the games in the competition, instructions should be unnecessary. The game is quite intuitive and easy to figure out on ones own. In case you need a hand getting started, all the levels in the game appears along the outside ring of the interface. You may play any level you wish using the selection mechanism at the bottom center, but it is suggested you begin with the first (and most basic) level, already in place at start-up, and work your way around by pressing the [>] button each time you complete a level. Then, to load up the puzzle for the current level, simply press the [+] button.
Once loaded, begin at the starting cell—the hexagon with the bright ring around it—and move the mouse over adjacent cells. You may only move up to 4 cells at a time before clicking to commit your path. Once committed you cannot go back without resetting the level. Thankfully you may reset as much as you need to complete the level and move on.
Completing levels is where the "grow" theme takes shape and is a reward for your efforts. An additional 'warp' cell type is introduced in later levels to introduce added complexity.
Analysis: I really enjoy this game, both from a visual perspective and because of its amazingly simple and straight forward gameplay. It took me about a minute to figure out what I was supposed to do and then I was compelled to play until I had completed every level. The levels ramp up in difficulty nicely with later levels presenting quite a challenge. For improvements, I'd like to see a random level generator made for the game to improve its replay value. Other than that, the game is nearly perfect as is.
Some of the choices for color and highlight may be difficult for those with certain forms of colorblindness, and at least one of the levels displayed a gameplay bug as noted in the comments. But short of those somewhat minor annoyances, this game shined and could have taken first place in the competition if it weren't for the other exceptionally strong contenders. An excellent effort from a budding and very promising new game developer. Well done, Aqui!
Visually and aurally, enQbate was competitive with any other entry—the graphics are sleek and the music appropriate. The puzzles were fun to play, and moderately innovative. I found the retracing mechanism to be very non-intuitive, and probably unnecessary—the transporters alone offered enough puzzle-designing capability. There were a few things that bothered me about the gameplay, such as being able to end on any cell you wanted, although maybe these were just bugs. With a few tweaks, I think this would have the potential to be a top entry.