Before a couple days ago, if a grizzly vagabond accosted me and started ranting that 2 plus 3 equals orange, or that yellow and blue make seven, I would have privately made some conclusions about his sanity and made a tactful withdrawal. But now that I have played a certain color and number based puzzler from Candystand, I would realize that this person has been playing Logica. I would also know why he was crazy, for Logica is fiendishly, maddeningly difficult, enough to push even the sanest, most well-adjusted grizzly vagabond over the brink.
The core concept is simple enough. Each level sports a field of Wheel-of-Fortune-style tiles, and occasionally some sort of hint or other accoutrements. Clicking on the tiles reveals a colored keyboard-key with a number on it from 1 to 9, and you can usually cycle through the various numbers and colors embedded in each tile. Each number is always matched with the same color, and every tile contains only a certain set of numbers. You will quickly learn these associations and limitations, and internalizing them is important to solving the puzzles.
The goal is to follow the instructions each level provides, and sometimes the point of the puzzle is in figuring out what those instructions are. There are three tiers of difficulty with ten levels each, plus a useful five level tutorial. If you defeat five levels in one tier, you can move on to the next. Steel yourself if you choose to do so, because Logica doesn't coddle.
Analysis: I like puzzle games to have a solid theme and a mechanic that doesn't require a lot of extra stuff on the periphery, and here Logica delivers. It's amazing how easily I learned to start adding colors and associating them with numbers, like I imagine a synesthete might. The persistent use of this mechanic and the keyboard-key look reminds me of the presentation of a Bart Bonte game.
The look of the game is not as slick as a Bonte project, but it's serviceable. The navigation is a little clumsy. There never is any indication of what level you are on, and you have to go back to the level menu each time you complete a puzzle, instead of immediately navigating to the next. However, it is easy to tell what levels you have completed, which is important as you will likely have to skip between levels quite frequently.
Yes, the difficulty. Maybe it's all the M&M's and pudding cups I've been binging on, but on the Medium and Hard puzzles especially, I found myself veering between successfully solving after a satisfying bit of consideration, and being completely addlepated and dumbfounded. It shames me to admit how often I had to consult the walkthrough Candystand provides, but even this was of limited utility, as it merely reveals the answers without explaining the logic behind them. On seeing some solutions I thought, "Not sure I would have come up with that, given the sugar high I'm on, but I must admit that is one clever puzzle. Well played, Logica!" Yet on others I could only think in disjointed waves of purple bewilderment and red frustration. An opaquely difficult puzzle is one in which the solution sows more confusion than the original puzzle.
Even the puzzles I did solve did not always make me happy. I want to make clear that there were many puzzles with nice, logical, satisfying solutions. A few rely on prior knowledge of other sorts of puzzles, though that isn't a huge problem. But several puzzles, I am pretty sure, relied on narrowing the field of solutions and brute-forcing them until one worked. One involves an impossible degree of visual acuity that I could only solve by screen-capturing the game and zooming in. I don't find these contortions fun; I find them tedious.
I'm being harsh on a minority of puzzles, and it's enough that it detracts from the experience. But there is still a good gameplay experience here. At it's best, when the difficulty curve isn't a wall, Logica provides several excellent puzzles. The theme is good, the concept well-conceived and usually the puzzles are clever and a solid application of the concept. But if you find yourself on the street, shouting that Neptune is blue, except that it's red, don't say you weren't warned.