Bryan Gale‘s Induction is a discrete puzzle game that keeps its explanations to a drum tight minimum. Just deducing the rules can be challenging – especially later on – and that’s in addition to the actual puzzles of getting a little cube and its clones to the right places at the right times.
“Right times” is a key concept here, as the levels involve manipulating objects across multiple timelines. It is geometrical Bill and Ted, copying, pasting, looping, rewinding, and replacing the very fabric of time itself, as casually as editing a mixtape.
The game takes a sufficiently different approach to 2008’s Braid, but that time-travel title is worth bringing up in a related context. The Zero Punctuation review of Braid contained an absolute clanger where Ben Croshaw criticised what he perceived as an arbitrary doors/keys interaction which, to the discerning player, was in fact not arbitrary but 100% consistent with the ruleset. That very same confusion and corresponding moment of “whoosh” can all-too-easily happen with Induction, where rigorously retracing the steps in a trial-and-error solution is just too much effort and it feels far more natural to blindly press on to the following level. Doing so always leads to being instantly stumped on the next rung of complexity and having to reduce everything right back down to first principles.
If “having to reduce everything right back down to first principles” sounds like a purgatorial process then Induction is not the puzzle game for you; just as last year Stephen’s Sausage Roll was not the puzzle game for many, who rushed to buy it on the strength of testimonial hype and were promptly offended by epiphanies of their own ineptitude.
However, if you are someone who enjoyed Stephen’s Sausage Roll, English Country Tune, et al – and especially if you thought games like Braid, The Witness, Portal, and The Talos Principle were too easy – then Induction is a confident slam dunk. The feeling of sitting for 15 minutes carefully thinking through a solution, progressively bolting down all aspects of the level – and how each must be implemented – before executing what you have just built in your head to conclusively solve it, receiving that satisfying 3-note melodic chirp, and having the cube vanish back to the game’s overworld (in itself an explanationless system with its own rules and patterns)…well…that feeling is among the most unique and enjoyable emotions a videogame can give.