Play it on: Windows (Steam Deck YMMV)
Current goal: Stop playing Hexcells every day
Back in September I waxed on about the virtues of the Hexcells trilogy, riveting logic puzzlers of the highest quality. Then I ended up replaying all three, doubling my Steam playtimes. Upon resurfacing last week, I knew those cells, lovely as they were, were nearly spent. I needed another source of brain ticklers par excellence, but whence? There exist literally thousands of unknown puzzle games to discover, and few would slake my specific thirst. Where to even start?
This was weird. I’m…not used to having no idea what to play.
Maybe Steam’s discovery features could help. Hexcells Infinite was tagged “Casual” and “Logic” so I filtered with those, and then sorted by average rating. Aha. There was Infinite ranked at number seven, with several Zachtronics games above. Just below? 14 Minesweeper Variants. Yes, that’s the game’s title. Incredible reviews, $6.99. Bought it. One reviewer wrote, “The next logical step if Hexcells and Tametsi are among your favorite puzzlers.” Tametwhat? Looked it up. “Overwhelmingly Positive,” $2.99. Bought that too, and returned to my newly expanded hoard to assess the spoils.
I’m only about two and a half hours into Tametsi so it’s still busy unfurling its intricacies, but I can already confirm, it sure has ‘em. And some wonderful puzzle designs as well. Its deduction-driven, hazard-marking gameplay is actually a little more Minesweeper-y than was Hexcells’, but it retains my beloved’s commitment to logic above all: Zero guessing is required. If you don’t know which cells to clear next, it’s because you gotta look harder, applying an ever-expanding range of logical lenses to the impassive grid that confronts you.
Tametsi, thankfully, is exactly what I was seeking. (No pun intended.)
Just one criticism so far: The game basically has programmer art, and maybe three sound effects. I never realized how much Hexcells’ attractive minimalist visuals and droning, ambient musicality helped it go down nicely, but I sorely miss those here. Bad graphics can be fine, but sometimes the amateur appearances of Tametsi’s busy, color-clashing puzzles actually impair easy comprehension. It would be fascinating to see what a graphic designer could do to clean that up so the game’s presentation lived up to its design.
A bigger issue, perhaps, is that frequent Kotaku guest editor John “Botherer” Walker has seemingly known about Tametsi for years and never “bothered” to tell me. You think you know a person… — Alexandra Hall