Samsara: XBox One Review
Developer: Marker Limited
Platform: XBox One
The puzzler is perhaps the most addictive game around.
When made simple enough, it's frustrating, enjoyable and likely to while away your hours, eat into your mind and suck up all your energy.
Puzzlers on consoles tend to have a similar effect, and Auckland-based developer Marker Limited's foray into the world of the puzzle game is quite effective at doing what it needs to.
With a simple story of a boy named Zee, who finds himself trapped in a world he has to escape, Samsara has the elements for the players to engage.
It's a physics-based game, one which sees you dropping blocks into place to help Zee move from portal to portal and progressing through levels. The catch is the game screen is split into two levels, one a Stranger Things inspired Upside Down which requires a bit of thought over how to place the blocks and move Zee on.
The crux of Samsara is that its simplicity hides its devilish soul in plain sight.
There initially appears to be nothing simpler than moving and twisting blocks into place to help Zee move on, but the reality of it is that it can be incredibly frustrating if you can't seem to see past the mechanics and work them to your advantage.
Days were lost puzzling over one of the earlier levels, where blocks apparently didn't go together - but this is where Samsara excels. It grants you the Eureka moment you need to allow you to get through its some 77 levels across 6 worlds.
It looks gorgeous with the simple colours of blues, reds, purples all mixing together to produce a wonderfully clear and crisp engagement. The upside down world also is nicely echoed with a faded look that suits the aesthetics well.
Ultimately while Samsara's gameplay is perhaps more suited to a handheld device or a portable phone, its console rendition allows gamers to try and think laterally in bitesize pieces. IT's a welcome distraction that engages the grey matter rather than indulging it in splatter, though it has to be said its repetitive nature can grind you down a little.
All in all, Samsara is an indie that shows the sector is in rude health - it doesn't pander to the masses, but does show that small can be clever and indicates that Marker Limited could be destined for big things.