Thinky Third Thursday

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Thinky Third Thursday
June 2024

Welcome to the June 2024 edition of Thinky Third Thursday, featuring four recent releases and six demos from the recent Steam Next Fest. As ever, Thinky Third Thursday is curated by Alan Hazelden of Draknek & Friends.

Recent thinky highlights:

Last month I highlighted several upcoming games releasing as part of Cerebral Puzzle Showcase - I won't cover them all here again, but I'll do one last shout-out for my personal favourite, Leaf's Odyssey. Does the ridiculous number of great games highlighted last month mean there's less to cover today? Absolutely not, here are some more bangers!

Star Stuff, by Ánimo Games Studio and Astra Logical (Windows/macOS)
Program robots and cooperate with them to solve puzzles. I've been playtesting this since 2022, but hadn't touched it for a while until the final release and I'm delighted with the final result. It's highly polished and the puzzles are all great.

Leap Year, by Daniel Linssen and Sokpop Collective (Windows)
A delightful puzzle platformer with a fragile protagonist who can't survive short falls or jumps. It's short and full of surprises, and worth seeing through to the end. It contains some tight platforming, but not an excessive amount - it never felt like a challenge was asking too much of me.

14 Minesweeper Variants 2, by Alith Games and Artless Games (Windows)
The worst thing about Minesweeper is eventually it'll generate a situation where you have to abandon logic and resort to guessing. Games like Hexcells and Tametsi understood this, and excelled at providing great deduction puzzles with completely logical solve paths. 14 Minesweeper Variants and its brand new sequel innovate in two areas: first, absolutely ridiculous rulesets pushing Minesweeper to its limits; and second, a novel feature which can detect incorrect deductions - no more breezing through with luck or brute force. The end result feels a little sickos-only, but there's a free demo if you want to see if you fall into that group.

BOND, by Gustav Almström and Dennis Qvarfordt Hammarlind (Windows/Linux)
A 3D block-pushing game where the player can grow to be multiple tiles large, and must become the correct shape to get to the destination. It's not much of a looker, and I initially worried that the mechanics might lead to fiddly level design, but that never happened - I found the puzzles to be uniformly well-designed and satisfying.

Thinky releases from the past month:

Upcoming games to watch for:

Last week was Steam Next Fest, the thrice-annual deluge of playable demos for upcoming games. These are the games that grabbed my attention most from the event, and their demos are all still available.

LOK Digital, by Letibus Design, Icedrop Games and Draknek & Friends (Windows/macOS demo available)
This is one of ours, but we're pretty sure you'll love it because we wouldn't be publishing it if we didn't. We recently released a new demo, including a daily puzzle mode featuring three challenging new puzzles every day until Monday. After that the demo will stay up but the daily puzzles won't be available for a while, as we process feedback and figure out how to make it even better for the full release later this year.

Arranger: A Role-Puzzling Adventure, by Furniture & Mattress LLC (Windows/macOS demo available)
Arranger has a lovely art style and a simple gameplay hook: shift objects around as you move towards or away from them. The demo includes the opening section of the game which gets you familiar with that central mechanic, but you should expect the full game to contain a lot of variations on what you can do with the idea. It's coming out July 25.

Dimhaven Enigmas, by Zadbox Entertainment (Windows/macOS/Linux demo available)
Dimhaven Enigmas is an atmospheric first-person puzzler from the creators of Quern - Undying Thoughts. Armed with just your notebook and a camera, explore the eerie and long-abandoned Dimhaven Island. If the first few puzzles are anything to go by, exploring the island won't be a gentle walk in the park, but fortunately there's an extensive hint system to keep you on the right track - first telling you roughly where to focus your attention, and then further hints getting increasingly spoilery. They're currently looking for funding on Kickstarter, so consider supporting them if you enjoy the demo.

The Rise of the Golden Idol, by Color Gray Games and Playstack (Windows demo available)
One of the more anticipated demos of Steam's Next fest is The Rise of the Golden Idol. In this demo you can play through four of the twenty cases the full game promises. The gameplay and puzzle loop will be familiar from the original: you'll be presented with a series of crime scene vignettes to click into and discover clues, then are asked to explain what happened. In a nice twist from the first game, after each chapter of cases you're asked to find and explain connections between the scenes that you might not have initially picked up on. The art style and UX have also undergone changes, and the story seems to pick up 300 years after the original game.

Tactical Breach Wizards, by Suspicious Developments (Windows demo available)
I don't cover every tactics game that comes out, but I'd put Tactical Breach Wizards alongside Into the Breach as a firmly puzzly (and very satisfying) tactics game. As you'd expect from a Tom Francis game, there's also a lot of character in the banter and scene-setting that happens between missions. It's coming out August 22.

Blue Prince, by Dogubomb and Raw Fury (Windows demo available)
Blue Prince, or as I prefer to call it - "getting lost in your great-uncle's house simulator" - is what happens when you cross a tile-laying strategy with a first person exploration game. As you wander deeper into the mansion's labyrinth, you place new rooms on your blueprints and in doing so uncover new doors to travel through. Behind some you'll find mini-puzzles, behind others you'll find keys/coins/gemstones, and behind others you'll find absolutely nothing at all. If you're really strategic, behind one you might just find Room 46. Me? On my third demo run I ended up locked in the bathroom.

That's it!

Did anything grab your attention from Steam Next Fest that I didn't mention? Please let me know if there's anything you want to suggest I try!

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