PEGBRJE: A Game of Changes and The Captain’s Log
A Game of Changes is a spiritual puzzle game made by Bit Outside the Box, the indie project studio created by Nuno Donato who brought us Satellite Repairman earlier in the bundle. This time, players will be exploring a different era as we dive not into the future, but to the past teachings of the Book of Changes (I Ching), on of the oldest classics in human history.
As Confucius, players will explore mountainous environments steeped in the teachings of the Book of Changes, while aiming to find the two trapezoids that contain the two characters needed to open the door at the end. To do this, players will be standing on elemental hexagons that can raise or lower their respective duo while doing the opposite to themselves. So for example, if players stand on a water hexagon, theirs will descend while the other water will ascend. If the one activated ascends, the other will descend. Since Confucius isn’t a spring chicken any more, jumps are difficult to do so the jump height isn’t that high and falling will cause him to collapse in pain and force an ‘undo’. To this end, understanding how high or low to move the platforms is crucial to ensure that the puzzle solving can continue. The other important aspect is that upon standing on the trapezoid, the two characters will appear on adjacent tiles; walking over one of them will add it to the top right as ‘collected’, and grabbing both will open the door. However walking over the trapezoid again will reset that character, which leads to very interesting issues of accidentally walking over a trapezoid again and there isn’t a character in the path that is needed. I ran in to this a few times, especially on maps that introduce the tiles that disappear shortly after activated or stepped on, leading to some serious brain bending in order to figure out a way around it.
Each level is accompanied by a passage from the Book of Changes as a way of reflecting on what is to come within one’s life while also being a hint for the upcoming puzzle that players will be solving. Barely anything is explained within the game without simply attempting it, as many of the symbols or mechanics introduced require players to simply step on the tile to find out what they do. It’s this focus on accepting change and simply attempting things that can help the message of each level sink in if you are willing to reflect upon the words during the time. Since there is no timer nor set path, players can take as long as they wish to uncover how the game works in each level which adds an interesting level of serenity to it. I can’t say that every solution always lands perfectly, as some levels focus on the disappearing hexagons to the point that a hard restart was the only way to solve a few of them, but that can be mitigated with some forethought. If you like learning of classic texts will solving puzzles, this might be your title.
The Captain’s Log is a narrative choice-based adventure made by Derek Caelin, indie game dev and environmentalist. The game is told through the lens of the Captain of a space vessel lost in space due to an error in the Far Jump, leaving them and the crew stranded. How they will get home with limited resources is up to the choices made and a whole pile of luck.
The goal of The Captain’s Log is to reach the massive glowing nebula that is Earth, not seen above due to my desire to view the voyage I had taken. To accomplish this, the player will make decisions on where the ship will go within the range that can be seen. Each planet is colour coded to represent a resource that is needed to keep the ship moving, from Green for Food, Blue for Water, Pink for Fuel and Teal/Indigo/Neon Blue for Wormhole Matter. Each one of these planets will extract a set amount of their resource, but to get there requires utilizing food, water and fuel which creates the core issue for players to solve. Wormholes are the only effective way of traveling great distances, but the planets that give their matter grant no other resources meaning that traveling to these planets will put a damper on supplies. Food and Water also start with abysmally low extraction percentiles, which add up quickly as players travel between planets and only recuperate the resources lost upon doing so.
There are, however, two gambles that can occur that will either result in a massive boon for the player, or a serious bane. Randomly, planets will allow for ‘high risk’ missions to acquire a massive amount of that planet’s resource for the player. However, failure will cause two crew members to die, and since crew members are needed to extract the resources that means that fewer crew can do so. I ended up avoiding this feature entirely after a streak where I had five failures in a row, which gave me much ire towards the system until I got forty water from a high risk mission and felt better. The issue is that there is no way to mitigate the possibility of failure, so it’s a completely 50/50 gamble to determine the fate of the crew members. The other gamble is on red planets, which on my run didn’t actually feel like gambling — they are marked with ??? in the index, yet I always received 10 resources of everything upon arrival. If there is a gamble, I’m not sure what it is.
What makes The Captain’s Log so interesting is in that green trail that is always left behind, documenting the progress made as you trail through the stars. The ship is constantly going to be worried about every resource, even with engineering constantly coming up with new decisions to create efficiency, extraction rate or jump distance; there’s just simply not enough resources at all times to keep going. What you put as priority will always be the deciding factor in how far you can get back home, and hopefully you are given a sprinkle of luck to ensure that the planets are bountiful. If you’ve enjoyed the other spacefaring titles that came before this one, centred on survival and decisions then this might be a good one to try out as well; there aren’t any interactions with the crew, but after reading about all of their squabbles maybe that is for the best.
Do note that this game didn’t seem to download through the itch.io client, so just download it online.
There be no links here.
A Game of Changes
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