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Sokobos Review

Sokobos is a puzzle solving game where the player ‘pushes’ tiles around a map completing a picture once all of the tiles have been put into their proper position. This is a game genre that was invented about 40 years ago (called Sokoban from Japan), and Sokobos looks the part. The graphics are very pixelated and look like they walked out of 1985. The first puzzle is very simple, but each follow-on level gets progressively more complex with larger maps, odd boundaries, and obstacles. Combined with the implied goal of matching the first player to get the lowest number of moves to solve a puzzle (or by some miracle setting a new low score), these simple puzzles could easily consume hours of brain time figuring out the most optimal path the player should use.

The controls for Sokobos are easily customized, and there are only a few to deal with. There are the four move directions as expected, an easy way to undo the last move, and once an intractable position has developed, an easy way to reset the puzzle back to the beginning. Other options include various graphic resolutions, most of which are unnecessary, as the graphics are so rudimentary. The sounds are basic, and there is background music, which many players will likely turn down to 1 from the default. There is also an interesting feature related to the display of the move count on the screen. As some players may be put off by their move count displayed versus the lowest move count recorded, it is asked before the game has started whether this feature should be on or off; either the developer has amazing foresight or has received feedback regarding this. Either way, it is probably a good idea for new players to turn it off.

This is a game that will humble most players. Some will become addicted to figuring out the most optimal solution to each puzzle. Although the graphics are very simple, the solutions to the puzzles are not. Opus Magnum end game levels are easier to optimize than puzzles just a few Sokobos levels deep. Players that enjoy programming will probably find a kinship here; programming is frequently iterating on code that works and finding the best way to optimize it. Unconventional thought will lead to many ‘ah-ha’ moments, for those willing to put the time and thought into Sokobos.

In the end, Sokobos is about a player’s thought process more than graphics or sound. Those that can’t be bothered to invest so much time into thinking about how to move, before moving, will likely not enjoy this game very much. There isn’t any action in Sokobos and the ‘back story’ is merely filler that can be skipped entirely. Hat’s off to any player that solves even the second or third puzzle optimally on the first try. Sokobos is a simple game with simple controls, but get out the Red Bull, because every bit of concentration and synapse firing will be in use to master this puzzler. Sokobos is recommended for puzzle lovers that are not easily frustrated.

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Jacmac is an ancient gamer that loves open world, strategy, FPS, and tactical sims, but will play almost anything.

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