Throughout the history of video games, numerous titles were able to inherit the legacy of old puzzle games. In some cases, the transposition from paper to the digital world was direct and straightforward, as for the famous Sudoku; on other occasions, it was interesting to see change. This is what happened with of Nintendo’s Picross series, which managed to reinvent the more classic of  nonograms (Japanese crosswords).

It is on these two examples that Stampede Games, a very small  group of Ukrainian independent developers, based their latest work. .Projekt reinterprets the concept of perspective, experienced by the team in their previous game Evo Explores. It is the apex of a journey already undertaken by other devs, with clear homages to the popular Monument Valley (Ustwo Games) and Echochrome (Japan Studio).

As a result, .Projekt looks like Picross but features a logic that’s more similar to Sudoku, original in its three-dimensional components, and able to keep the player hooked as they tag along for a mild and relaxing experience.

The Return of Technical Drawing!

The playing area, in which each level of .Projekt’s set, is a 3x5x5 three-dimensional grid. The player is asked to freely plonk down some cubes so that the structure they build matches the projections the game provides. Each puzzle will challenge your ability to see the bigger picture.

Thanks to a narrow range of actions and movements, all intuitively executable with the mouse, we’re given almost-total mobility.  From the very first pictures, we understand that each puzzle has more that one solution. We’ll have to find them if we hope to complete the level.

The real challenge offered by .Projekt is hidden precisely in these alternative solutions. The player’s forced to use a limited number of cubes or, at time, to dispose of as many as possible. This clever trick effectively breathes fresh air into each of the 60 puzzles and duplicates the game’s overall longevity. In the end, .Projekt will give you roughly 4 hours worth of content.

The patterns this game offers do gradually get more complex, but I didn’t feel they were arranged according to the challenge they posed. Difficulty, anyway, will remain at a medium-high level throughout the entire experience; a pretty common thing for this kind of titles.

A Sophisticated Brain-Tease

With .Projekt, Stampede Games has shown a remarkable ability to create a product that’s unique, even though it doesn’t rely on particularly complex graphical or sound elements. Clear lines, lean figures, and rounded shapes are the heart of an art-style based on shades of gray, which finely accompanies our attempts to solve the puzzles.

The soft ambient music also acts as the perfect acoustic background to the light and fleeting animations. Alongside the minute and discrete sound effects, the whole audio compartments seems designed to  enhance the player’s concentration.

This successful interpolation of aesthetics and sound is functional to maintaining the focus on the action, which remains the protagonist for as long as we’re playing. Lastly, transitions add a final touch to the scene and once again show us just how much this team know what they’re doing.

Yay or Nay?

.Projekt is an honest game, one that does not look for a way to mask its weak points.  The title’s monotony and its limited longevity are there, but they don’t negatively affect the final results.  Throughout the experience, there is a great respect for the player. We’ll be able to spend as much time as we want on the puzzles, all with no pressure or need for commitment.

My personal opinions are more than positive. I appreciated all the feeling of calmness that permeates the game from beginning to end. By the time I was done, it had left me with a pleasant memory.

Available on Steam (Windows and Macintosh), Google Play (Android) and the App Store (iOS), .Projekt is a recommended purchase to anyone who wants to enjoy a break in the company of a quiet puzzle.  Its price also deserves a mention, since the game’s sold for less than 5 bucks or your regional equivalent!

Original Article: Alberto Muratore