Kartoffl is a new VR puzzle game from new developer VR Breach. I’ll start by eliminating the fact that, yes, it’s ostensibly similar to Lemmings, in that your main task is to guide a group of anthropomorphized creatures through several obstacles to a designated exit. Hopefully, by addressing this early and early, we can all focus on what Kartoffl has to offer, rather than being distracted by the shadow cast by one of the greatest puzzle games ever made.
So, will Kartoffl inspire you to solve its puzzles? Or will they make you boil with rage?
Detach the old block
Like most games of this type, Kartoffl places its levels in VR space as a kind of floating island and allows the player to manipulate them through interactions with controllers.
You can zoom in and out and move in any direction as you imagine. Although it’s a relatively quiet experience, the developers have provided comprehensive comfort options for particularly sensitive people.
At the start of each level, a puzzle is laid out in front of you. There is a starting point, an ending point and an incomplete path between the two. The player’s task is to guide a set number (not always 100%) of these little potatoes, which the game calls Spuds, from start to finish by adding elements to the scene that will allow them to navigate safely through the route.
It starts simple: place a launch pad to jump a gap. insert a corner piece so the potato people don’t fall on their doormat at a corner, or simply place a bridge over a space.
As you can imagine, things get complicated quickly. By the time your level number is in the teens, you’ll be presented with starting and ending points with nothing in between and not enough coins to cross the gap – and that’s where the game takes all its meaning.
With limited resources available and increasingly large or trap-laden levels to guide your Spuds, recycling items becomes essential and adds a welcome urgency to a game where there is no time limit or time limit. another obvious threat.
The blocks that make up most of the levels and other elements like trees and stone monoliths are rendered in a bright, blocky, playful style that’s reflected in the upbeat music and cartoonish sound effects.
It would be easy to dismiss these AV design choices as basic or a bit unadventurous, and there’s nothing revolutionary or exciting here. But Kartoffl brings it all together with a rather pleasant central theme of natural materials – and the Spuds themselves, with their helicopter-foil hair and cheerful expressions, are downright adorable.
A small frustration is that with Spuds wandering in all directions and gadgets and gadgets slashing them around levels, the rules on what constitutes a Spud-on-Spud collision are sadly inconsistent.
Other death states are very well defined: falling more than two block heights and it’s mashed potatoes, throwing a potato into a wall or the propeller on the underside of a hovering block: mashed potatoes, bump two Spuds together, and it’s mashed potatoes… Sometimes… and other times they cut each other harmlessly.
In a game that encourages experimentation and creative problem-solving, that’s not a big deal – it doesn’t seem to match an otherwise tightly delivered experience.
A crisp challenge
Kartoffl features 60 levels, with secondary goals of collecting three stars and guiding every potato to safety in each. I got through the top 20 with all the potatoes and stars in about an hour, but the challenge intensifies at this point and the playtime, not to mention the satisfaction, increases with it. Getting each stage checked off with three stars will likely take 4-6 hours, depending on your skill and stubbornness with those additional objectives.
Fortunately, this relatively small amount of content is reflected in the relatively low price of $14.99.
While it’s tempting to rate Kartoffl alongside this “other” game, any time spent with the lovable Spuds exposes that as a lazy comparison that distorts the game developers Breach have put together.
Kartoffl’s trump card is that she encourages a creative approach to solving her puzzles.
From a short path through its 60 levels, there is no longer a single solution to be sought. Scenes open up and offer a nearly endless number of ways to guide your potato-headed gang to the objective, the only constraint being how quickly you can move items from one point in the scene to another. other.
Fortunately, the controls are precise, responsive, and simple enough to facilitate this, giving the player the tools to be as inventive or direct as they want with their solutions.
It’s worth noting that this is a lightweight offering, with a style and execution that could, without charity, compare to something you’d find on your mobile device’s store, but that would render a huge bad service at Kartoffl.
In VR, Kartoffl benefits immensely from being able to fully manipulate game elements in space. Most importantly, the game is enjoyable and challenging from the start and is hugely addictive – as evidenced by the fact that it earned the coveted “Low Battery” accolade on my very first playthrough.
It may not be innovative in its style, but Kartoffl offers addictive and confusing fun with a creative twist that gives it an identity of its own.
Creative approach to solutions
Not really revolutionary
Inconsistent collision detection