Getting Lost in the Gentle Puzzle Flow of Scalak

A good puzzle can either tease or torment your brain and a good puzzle game will do both at one point or another, frequently within the same level.  Scalak is a simple 3D game of puzzling shapes where you need to figure out how to twist and turn the board to fit the pieces onto the central construct, putting everything into its proper place so the next puzzle pops up and you get to do it again.  It’s a purely abstract experience, like a jigsaw with no picture, except the board is as much part of the puzzle as the pieces themselves.

The board generally sits in the middle of the screen with pieces arrayed around it, and nothing fits right until the board is oriented correctly.  Pieces tend to be several squares across, but once placed the parts of the board it slotted into can be moved apart without breaking anything.  It’s necessary to do this because the next piece may require the board to be twisted into an entirely new configuration, or there could be gems that need to be matched side-to-side in order to complete things.  The requirements for success change from one section to the next, with new wrinkles being constantly introduced across Scalak’s 100 puzzles.

I recently got hands-on time with an early version containing over 60 of the final puzzles and found myself poking away at it until everything was beaten, moving from one challenge to the next in a pleasant flow of logic.  While not the most challenging puzzler around it made for a highly relaxing evening, with some levels coming together relatively quickly while others required a nice succession of mental if/then statements before being able to place the first piece.  You’ll need at least a semi-decent head for 3D, seeing as pieces can travel over angles and the board usually needs to be rotated to the correct perspective to place them, and figuring out the order of rotation for some of the later puzzles to line up all the bits can take a fair amount of experimentation.  Seeing as the version I got to play was missing the back third and the difficulty was ramping up at a gentle but steady pace I’m looking forward to a solid challenge as it nears the end.  Even if the difficulty levels off, though, the inventiveness of the puzzle design and regular switching out of game mechanics means there’s always a reason to look forward to the next challenge.

Scalak is in development for iOS and PC, and coming in at a tiny little $2 on either platform.  Check out the trailer below to see it in action.