English Country Tune: One-Sided

Replaying the beginning of English Country Tune for comparison purposes seems to have turned into playing the whole game. I only got a bit more than halfway through it when I first played it, and, aided by memories, I’ve already gotten well past that point. In the process, I’ve re-encountered one of the most interesting puzzles I’ve ever seen. Let me describe it.

First, understand that the player avatar in this game is a square, which moves about on the surface of an agglomeration of blocks by flipping end over end. There’s a puzzle set where you’re coated with green paint that plants seeds on contact with special “garden” tiles, causing a sort of abstract bush or something to sprout when you leave the tile, rendering that square impassible. Your goal throughout this set is to paint a bush on every garden tile. In other words, it’s a series of puzzles about covering a set of squares without retracing your path, just like the red trap door puzzles in DROD. The three-dimensionality adds an extra twist or two, but nonetheless, I personally have found this sequence to be by far the easiest part of the game. It is, however, followed by a much trickier set, in which your flippy square has green paint on only one side, so that it alternates between consuming tiles and not consuming tiles. Among other things, this means that you have to take advantage of the corners of blocks to switch your parity.

That’s interesting, but the really interesting puzzle is the first one in the one-sided set. Instead of the normal puzzle interface, the game gives you a simple level editor, and challenges you to create a one-sided-paint puzzle out of nothing but blocks with garden tiles on every exposed face, and then solve it. This is actually pretty tricky to do. Most simple shapes cannot be covered completely with an alternating paintbrush. Presumably the author noticed this in the course of developing the puzzles, and realized that the level design problem he was solving was a pretty good puzzle in its own right, worthy of inclusion in the game. I don’t think I’ve seen this sort of level-design puzzle elsewhere, and it’s something I’d be interested in seeing more of.

I’ve gotten far enough into the game to see one more instance of a puzzle that uses the level editor, but it’s not the same: it asks you to create a shape that interacts with the rules in a particular way, but doesn’t ask you to make a solvable puzzle.

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