Master the space-time continuum in Causality, a unique puzzle game for iPhone – Macworld

These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a gameYou Should Play.

Most of the puzzle games on the App Store fall into a handful of genres: match-3, hidden object, point-and-tap. Occasionally, youll see a unique take on one of those genres (like Spry Foxs Road Not Taken), butstill in one of those genres.

Causality is not your typical puzzle game.

If I had to classify Causality, I guess Id call it a turn-based puzzlewith a twist. But even thats kind of a lie, because this is one of the most unique mobile games Ive played. Its so unique that its actually kind of difficult to explain, but Ill take a stab: In this game, you travel backward (and forward) in time to help your past (or future) self(s).

Eryeah. Its hard to describe in words, but it makes more (if not complete) sense when you get your hands on it. Youll have to pay $1.99 for this premium pick, and its totally worth your cash. Heres why:

It starts out simple: If youre asking yourself what the heck a space-time continuum is right about now, dont worryyoure not expected to jump into the deep end of Causality without getting your feet wet. Although the game eventually gets pretty tricky, the first chapter does a good job of easing you into the confusion.

Causality consists of 60 levels across four different zones, and each zone has 15 levels (10 main levels and five optional levels), a unique visual scheme, and new obstacles and challenges. The first 10 levels in the first zone are introductory: Here, youll learn the basics of how the astronauts move and how obstacles and time-warp portals work. Its not an in-depth tutorial, but youll get the hang of it pretty quickly (and if you dont, this game is totally winnable by trial-and-error).

The goal: Get the blue astronaut to the blue tile and the green astronaut to the green tile. And dont get snatched by an alien tentacle.

In each level, your goal is to direct colorful astronauts to their respective colorful tiles. There are obstacles along the way, such as alien tentacles, switch-based platforms, and crumbling tiles. The solution wont always be straightforwardin some levels youll need to bump your astronauts into each other to get them to go the correct direction. When an astronaut successfully reaches their destination tile, they stopin some levels, one astronauts tile will block anothers, so youll need to time their travels correctly.

Levels also have time constraints, which are measured as step-counts (or turns). To move time forward, tap the screen and drag your finger down; to move time backward, tap the screen and drag your finger up. This game is turn-based, so at each step or turn you can make changes to the board by tapping arrow tiles to change directions.

But it quickly gets crazy: Switches, arrow-tiles, and obstacles are one thing, but time-warp portals are where Causality gets interesting (and incredibly confusing). If an astronaut comes enters a time-warp portal, theyre teleported to a different part of the board and to a different point in time.

The purple astronaut is four steps from the portal (the tile with light shooting out of it), and the portal sends him back five stepsso you can already see his ghost.

This is where it gets tricky: when an astronaut starts to approach the portal a time-warped ghost of that astronaut will appear on the board. Its a little tough to wrap your head around, but if the portal sends your astronaut back three moves, the astronauts ghost will appear on the screen three moves before the astronaut reaches the portal. Time-warps appear as loops on your timeline, so that should clear things up a littlesort ofmaybe

Once the original astronaut actually enters the portal, theyll disappear and the ghost will become the real astronaut. Naturally, this means that many of Causalitys puzzles can only be solved with some careful time manipulating and multiple astronaut planning.

Its beautiful and relaxingish: If Causalitys uniqueand occasionally super frustratingtake on turn-based puzzles doesnt tempt you, its graphics and soundtrack certainly will.

The board may be minimal, but the background is not.

Like many popular mobile games, Causalitys primary visual aesthetic is low-poly minimalism, but its not just another Monument Valley clone. This game definitely has its own look, with single-screen boards, smooth white tiles, and bright, vibrantly-colored dynamic backgrounds. Although the boards are maybe a bit too minimalist, youll still find a lot of unnecessary (but pretty) details, including cables and electrical currents that match switches, platforms, and portals.

Old-school video scan lines indicate rewinding or fast-forwarding.

Whats perhaps more impressive than just the art is the animation, because of how the game is set up. Since youre constantly moving backward and forward in Causality, the board is almost always in motion. This is where the dynamic backgrounds really come into playevery movement, no matter how tiny or irrelevant to the outcome, is recorded on the tape and played backward and forward. Youll even see old-school video scan lines to indicate fast-forwarding and rewinding (versus just playing).


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Master the space-time continuum in Causality, a unique puzzle game for iPhone – Macworld

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