The Strings Theory does not break new ground but follows the Nintendo Playbook for Tea Puzzle Gaming.
As big budget games become better and more complex with each new generation, it is a pleasure to go back in time with the fascinating little indie game. Often unrestrained by focus groups and marketing tests, one of the sub-genres I grew up with in the wake of Braid’s release in 2008 is what I like to call the “indie puzzle platform”. There are games that take ideas from popular franchises and how Nintendo structures are no different to the new Mario games.
In the case of Strings Theory it is a very simple puzzle game that will not blow you away with over-produced visuals or screen confusion. You are controlling the blisters of the string while trying to navigate the small mazes. It’s very stylish after games like Edge, Circles and CNKR, in which everything you need to know is explained within seconds of starting the level.
I sucker for games like this, so I was immediately fascinated by the puzzle elements here. In the demo available on Steam for PAX Online, the Strings Theory gradually demonstrates the hardest curve, accumulating new concepts in test areas before combining and comparing everything you learn, following the Nintendo blueprint to tee.
The basic concept is that you lay the tips in a square to create bridges between different areas to pick up colorless strings. Once you have done so, a central teleporter will open and you will step on it to go to the next level. In some ways, this is an evolution of the classic Windows 3.1 Game Chips Challenge, with an expanded playing field.
The demo doesn’t really show what I call a “challenge”, but it’s a slice of the potential for strings theory. Although I’m going through the puzzles on offer, I was a little stumped with one of the final exams. In it, you control a specific string creature that is a pair. Using their twin binding force, they call each other platforms across the gaps. The puzzle finds how to manipulate them around the environment to reach that ultimate goal.
A few other rooms also introduced different string creatures, each of which had unique characteristics. The tall yellow man could not tip over the squares to extend the paths. It had to be done by Blue String Dude. By placing each letter on each other’s grid, it became a task to figure out which squares to tip to allow the yellow person.
As an idea, this is the golden blueprint to be followed to make the game objectively objective. I do not know if everyone is attracted to Strings Theory, but you can not fault its tried and true design. It remains to be seen whether such ideas can be distinguished from the decade-plus, but I hope there is something unique in the store at Developer BeautifulBe.
Currently, Strings Theory is on track for an autumn 2020 release on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Switch. It has co-op play and has about 50 different levels.
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