Outer Wilds

Link to game’s website

Why do we like to play games?

A fellow astronaut playing a Banjo in space, as astronauts do

Outer Wilds is an indie puzzle-based exploration game developed by Mobius Digital set in a minituarized solar system where spacefaring players travel to discover its secrets and uncover the remains of an ancient alien race – all within a 22 minute time loop. An initial version of the game was an entrant in IGF 2015 before being fully released on PC, Xbox One and PS4 on May 2019.

Think back to when you first picked up a controller, what was it about gaming that drew you in? Was it the depth of the game mechanics, the interwoven emergent gameplay systems, or the immense eye-candy on screen meant to short-circuit your dopamine receptors? I wager it was none of these, instead it was the simple joy of exploring a completely unknown world and having your imagination spurred – in essence, the satiation of your human instinct for curiosity and discovery.

This post will analyze how Outer Wilds achieves a fulfilling player experience purely by using the player’s own curiosity and need for discovery by relating the game’s systems and design decisions to the Lenses of the Elemental Tetrad and Curiosity, Motivation, Problem Solving, Time, and Secrets.

The Elemental Tetrad


You certaintly won’t find these planets at NASA

The first real draw for any player to this game would be the almost surrealist solar system of Outer Wilds full of its wacky planets all drawn in a flat-shaded style that’s easy on the eyes. There’s just something about the allure of space that made us all want to be astronauts at some point in our childhood. Naturally, this allure feeds directly into the curiosity a player has about this game and its world, and serves to strengthen the game’s core premise of exploration driven by player motivation.

Technology & Mechanics

A surprisingly accurate solar system simulation, full of slingshotting around planets, perfecting planet entry maneuvers, and lots of hurtling into the void of space.

An exploration game set in a solar system would in no way be complete without a depiction of the larger-than-life forces at play around some massive celestial bodies. Outer Wilds in fact performs a fairly accurate physics simulation of a solar system within the Unity game engine, with each planet in its own orbit around the sun, and the varied effects of gravity experienced around and on different planets.

Watch your y-axis velocity, lest you veer into the sun

The core mechanics of flying a spaceship and navigating the surface of different planets in the game directly play off the physics technology behind Outer Wild’s solar system. This creates a surprisingly challenging and thereby engaging second-to-second player experience as the player needs to always consider their movement in 6-axis and how slight differences in gravity around the solar system can offset their entire mental positioning model.

Despite the game’s humble aesthetics, these deep movement mechanics and accurate physics simulation add a sense of believability into the world that serves to sufficiently suspend the player’s disbelief to prime them for the last aspect of the Elemental Tetrad:


A whole game about discovering lore – yet nowhere close to boring

The story of Outer Wilds is almost entirely delivered through what are essentially text logs. There are no cutscenes, no audible dialog, and no deep dialog trees or other interaction systems. With such a bare bones method of storytelling, one would assume that the game would be nothing short of a boring walking simulator.

However, the game’s text is specifically written to be engaging and spur the player’s curiosity about the solar system. Every piece of discovered text in the game has hints about locations, objects, or even characters hidden throughout the solar system. By serving as the player’s only guide to solving the game’s puzzles, players are in fact trained to be on the active hunt for these bits of lore instead of treating them as optional skippable collectibles.

This creates a feedback loop of curiosity that encourages the player to explore more to discover more lore, which in turn leads the player to even further discoveries and findings.

The Lens of Curiosity

Outer Wilds Quantum Moon - How to Get to the Quantum Moon, Reach the Sixth  Location | USgamer
Ominous towering structure: check

There are absolutely no map markers in Outer Wilds. There is no sequential way players must visit each of the planets. There are no expectations the game puts on the player and on how they wish to experience the game. Then how is a player expected to know what to do next in an entire solar system?

This is where one of the key design decisions of the game comes in: designing planets, structures, etc. to be only as large as they need to be. Planets are barely the size of small real-world asteroids and most structures on a planet can be seen towering over the curvature of the planet from many kilometeres away in space.

These clearly designated zones make it very easy for players to spot something that piques their curiosity and to simply jump in their spaceship and travel there. Once a player sees how low the barriers to satisfying their curiosity are, they get even more curious since they no longer see invisible barriers, level-capped dungeons, or the other limitations that AAA games can have on exploration, but instead the possibilities of going anywhere their heart desires.

The Lens of Motivation

What else is there to learn in this world solar system?

Having the player realize that where they go and what they do in this solar system is only limited by their appetite for adventure allows the player to develop the previously discussed curiosity and need for discovery – one of the purest forms of motivation one can have for any aspect of life, let alone a game.

This free-form approach to player motivation coupled with the varied environments interestingly keeps the player engaged for much longer – since a player’s appetite for exploration could vary greatly based on their mood. The player does not have to explore the furthest, lonelinest reaches of the solar system if they just want to do something comfortable – and the game’s small yet dense world design allows for the player to experience progression in the story no matter where they are in the solar system.

The Lens of Problem Solving

Outer Wilds Dark Bramble: How to Get Past the Angler Fish and Find Feldspar  | USgamer
Duplicate signals? What?

Many puzzle games are based around the mastery of one or two mechanics to solve their puzzles, often building on top of these mechanics for more complex puzzles. Puzzle games that come to mind include Portal, The Witness, Monument Valley, etc.

Outer Wilds is unique in that there is no real mastery of a mechanic required to beat its puzzles. What the game requires mastery of instead, is knowledge itself. To illustrate, a player who has understood the rules of the solar system can finish the game within the very first time loop itself – no exploration required.

This knowledge encompasses multiple instances of knowing where to go, when to go there, and what to do there – all in the right order – all leading up to the finale of the game. This is where the game achieves extreme cohesion in design as the aesthetics, story, the player motivation, and their curiosity all come together to ensure the player is always acquiring new knowledge about the solar system, and slowly pieceing together its many secrets.

The Lens of Secrets

The source of the duplicate signals?

Outer Wilds does not hide its best secrets. They are almost always in plain sight right in front of the player, waiting till the player acquires the knowledge to see the secrets for what they are. This creates numerous Eureka! moments throughout the game that give the players more incentives for exploration and to stay curious.

A slight spoiler of an example:

On one of the planets, underground caves are continually being filled up with sand throughout the time loop. Thus being stuck in a cave while the sand fills around you spells imminent death. There is a particular room thats needs to be accessed at the end of a long cavern, but it always seems like there is never enough time to get to the entrance before the sand crushes you. However, if a persistent player explores enough, the rising sand outside the narrower cavern will eventually lead you to an opening on the surface of the planet that allows for a much quicker entrance into the cave system, thereby giving you enough time to reach the locked room.

The Lens of Time & A Fitting Conclusion

Just your average daily supernova

All things come to an end. Appropriately then, in the end of this blog post, we discuss a final masterstroke in Outer Wild’s design – the game’s 22-minute time loop that ends with the solar system burning up in a supernova and the player losing all their progress.

While this undoing of progress might seem initially frustrating, the 22-minute time loop plays favourably into Outer Wilds’ strengths. Firstly, the time loop incentivizes the player to optimize their playthrough towards exploration and gathering knowledge – one of the game’s design goals. The duration of the time loop is also extremely well balanced such that the player has only enough time to satisfy one or two of their curiosities, leaving behind the rest of their unanswered questions for subsequent time loops. This ensures that there is always a list of things that the player wants to try in their next loop, hooking them to the game and making them constantly curious to keep exploring.

To conclude, almost every design decision in Outer Wilds – ranging from the creation of intrinsic curiosity and motivation, the dense, hand-crafted solar system, and the knowledge-based progression system – coalesces to answer the question of why we started playing games in the first place: to explore, to discover, and to get lost. To this end, I believe Outer Wilds is as pure as a game can get, and must be experienced at least once by anyone who has become disillusioned with AAA and mobile gaming.


Website: https://devast.io/

Devast.io is a 2D web-based online survival game.
It was developed by two indie developers, LapaMauve, who have also built several other web-based “.io” games.
It’s similar to games like Rust and DayZ.

There are no objectives.
You spawn in a harsh environment with nothing.
To survive, you have to battle the cold, stave off hunger and defend against ghouls who actively pursue you at night.

Farm resources, craft, or build a base.

The longer you survive, the stronger the ghouls.
And most importantly, the more attractive your loot is to other players.

Players join persistent* live servers.
When you die (or log off), you drop all your inventory and all your buildings gets destroyed.

Elemental Tetrad
The client was developed using Javascript with libraries like [GitHub – schteppe/p2.js: JavaScript 2D physics library](https://github.com/schteppe/p2.js).
The backend runs on NodeJS.

* Destructible environments.
* Crafting and resource gathering.
* Proximity text chats (you can only see messages of people nearby you).
* Linear projectiles (e.g. bullets)

There is no official “story”.
The stories in the game are formed by the players — their meta-relationships.

The graphics are simple.
Audio is used sparingly. Only player interactions e.g. shooting, gathering, as well as environment effects (radiation).

The aesthetics are designed to help manage the player’s attention.
Devast.io is a tense game. At any moment, you can be killed and lose all your progress.
The slightest distraction can be game ending.
It’s imperative that they be minimised, and Devast accomplishes this very well.

Lens of Competition vs Cooperation
* Resources regenerate every day/night cycle.
* Rare resources are located in small zones to encourage competition (and cooperation).
* Rare resources are also located in radioactive zones, encouraging cooperation (who can form a team strong enough to defend the zone and get ahead?)

Lens of Time
Being an ephemeral browser-based game where your progress gets reset the moment you die or log off, the game’s pace has to be **fast**.
The day and night cycle only lasts 15 minutes.

* Daytime is for farming and gathering.
* Players are hunted by ghouls (NPC enemies) at night.

Lens of Expected Value
* Crates are scattered throughout the map, that have a chance of spawning rare loot (e.g. weapons).

Lens of Imagination
* Build anywhere, destroy anything.
* Many possible strategies to attack and defend (e.g. building walls around a player’s base to starve them)

Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition

Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings is a classic real-time strategy video game developed by Ensemble Studios, published by Microsoft, and released in 1999. It is the second game in the Age of Empires series. And its definitive edition is developed by Forgotten Empires, published by Xbox Game Studios, and released in 2019. The Age of Kings is set in the Middle Ages and contains 39 playable civilizations, and the civilizations have varying strengths and weaknesses with regard to economics, technology, and combat. Players aim to create armies to defeat their enemies by gathering resources and building towns. Age of Empires II sold 2 million copies and became the best-selling product in the video game market in 7 countries in the three months it had released, and became one of the competition items in the World Cyber Games for the first three years.

Game Play

Lens 9: Elemental Tetrad


AoE2:DE 4K Frames extracted from the trailer for better visualization : r/ aoe2
The battle

Age of Empires II is a real-time strategy game that focuses on creating armies to defeat opponents. For this purpose, the player has to gather resources and build towns. Players conquer rival kingdoms as they advance one of 39 civilizations through four Ages. When advancing to a new Age, you can unlock new units, structures, and technologies.

Villagers, the Civilian units, are mainly used to gather resources or build structures. Resources can be used to train units, construct buildings, or research technologies. For instance, players can research better armor for cavalry units. The game features four types of resources: food, wood, gold, and stone. Food is obtained by hunting wild animals, gathering berries, or farming. Wood can be collected by chopping down trees. Gold and Stone mainly get from mines. Thus, the main resources are limited.

The game includes about five types of military units: infantry, archers, cavalry, siege weapons, and naval units. Certain types of infantry, archers, and cavalry are “counter units” with special defenses against other types of units. The three human classes of the military generally follow a rock-paper-scissors model. For example, the infantry are generally powerful against buildings but weak against cavalry. Thus, the infantry counter units, spearmen and pikemen, have attack bonuses against cavalry.

Age of Empires 2 : The Age of Kings (1999 Game) - Tech Tree - Album on Imgur
Tech Tree

Players choose to play as one of 39 civilizations. The civilizations have varying strengths and weaknesses with regard to economics, technology, and combat. Furthermore, each has access to one or more different, very powerful unique units.

Buildings in the games can research technologies and upgrades that increase economic, military, or unit-based efficiency. Also, the building can help us to defend against enemies’ attacks.


Age of Empires II: Rise of the Rajas – playing the past in Southeast Asia -  New Mandala
The background of civilizations

Age of Empires II is set in the Middle Ages and contains 39 playable civilizations. The entire background is adapted by the truth in history, whatever the unique unit and specialty for each civilization. For example, players who pick up “Chinese” can get three more villagers to help you to gather resources since it is famous for its agriculture. Furthermore, its single-player campaigns have multiple playable scenarios that progress a storyline, and each is centered around a different civilization. For example, in the Frankish campaign, the player leads Joan of Arc against the English in the Hundred Years’ War. All its historical stories are convincing because two professors at the University of Arizona allow gamers who play its latest game in the Age of Empires series to earn one academic credit at the university.


What with its historical background and what with its new 4K graphics, Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition becomes an epic eye-catching game. Also, the game is very focused on the character’s appearance, and you can see each role of civilizations is dressed with different styles of clothes. You can enjoy the cultural diversity and the lifelike and delicate figures in the game. All the fantasy features and clothes in different cultures can be found. Furthermore, you can hear the same sentence in different languages when you choose a different civilization, that is, the role lines are customized.


The developers remake it to be accepted by 4k graphics and develop AI and trigger systems in the games to create more interactive events. Also, they update amounts of patches to make the advantages between the variety of civilizations the same and keep introducing new civilizations.

Lens 29: Chance

The game is a little bit depending on the chance. Sometimes your villagers are easier to gather resources, sometimes your rival is close to you instead of far away from you, and sometimes you have the advantage of natural barriers to defend easier. However, the main and critical factors among the players are the same because of their fairness. After all, it’s a strategy game, not a luck game.

Lens 33: Rules

Although there is some cheating code to make completing the campaign easier in single-player mode, you can’t use it when you play with others. And basically, the units you can control are almost the same as others. Since it’s a game that demands highly focusing on the screen, you can pause whenever you want but the pause has the time and the numbers limitations for fairness.

Lens 35: Head and Hands

As a tactical game, the players have to think of many strategies for different conditions. Sometimes you have to attack aggressively, and sometimes you need to defend and raid suddenly. Thus, to complete the strategy, your manipulation of the mouse and keyboard has to be precise and rapid. Furthermore, under the limited resources, how to distribute them is very critical. For example, when you focus on economics, your army will be vulnerable. Therefore, the game is not only for manipulation but also for strategy.

Lens 84: Friendship

Steam Community :: Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition
4 vs 4 battle

In the multiple-player mode, the players can cooperate with or against their friends. In other words, you can form a team, trade with one another to gain more resources, and share the resources you gather to conquer the enemies together. As a team, you can implement some complicated strategy which you can’t do alone, or you can enjoy your teamwork to defeat a mutual opponent together. On the other hand, you can choose to fight against one another and enhance your playing skill, after all, outperforming the playing skill of your friends will satisfy your ambition.

Lens 86: Community

The tournament

There are many tournaments held all over the world, and there are lots of Youtubers and streamers playing with or against one another. Furthermore, when the players notice that there may be some unfairness among the civilizations, they’ll discuss it on Steam or other platforms. And the launcher will issue a patch immediately. It is not difficult to find that we form a strong community to share and talk about everything about the games. Also, you can find the player to play together.

Wild Rift Game Review

The game that I have decided to review is a Mobile MOBA, Wild Rift. Wild Rift is a mobile version of League of Legends, with the same playable characters, map and gameplay. The reason that I have chosen Wild Rift over League is because League can only be played on PC while wild rift can be played on any platform, making it more accessible. Despite being ported over to a mobile device, the game mechanics was not lost and I felt that the developers did a good job making the controls work so that the touch screen is able to recreate the actions of the mouse and keyboard. 

Screenshot of Wild Rift Gameplay

Game Website: https://wildrift.leagueoflegends.com/en-sg/

Game Demo Trailer: PreviewPreview1:14Official Gameplay Trailer | League of Legends: Wild RiftYouTube · League of Legends: Wild Rift · 28 Oct 2020

Game Champion Overview: PreviewPreview2:57Kayle Champion Overview | Gameplay – League of Legends …YouTube · League of Legends: Wild Rift1 month ago

To begin, I will explain how a MOBA works. MOBA stands for Massive Online Battle Arena. It is typically characterised by a game featuring 2 teams of 5 players each. The game features various champions who each has different abilities. For example, one could be a tank with healing abilities while another could be more aggressive with a rocket launcher. Each player selects a champion of their choosing and then battle it out. The goal of the game is to barge into the enemies’ base and destroy the crystal sitting there. This can be done by fighting in the lanes or jungle. The lanes have towers which attacks enemies who get too close and the jungle is populated with neutral enemies that both sides can kill. Players get gold when they kill enemies and can use that gold to purchase items that improve their stats. They will also get experience points that will help them to level up, increasing their stats and giving them more abilities to use. 

I have been playing this game for close to 6 months now and have thoroughly enjoyed it. For this post, I used the 2 pass method to analyse my experience when playing the game. First, I played the game without recording anything down. Next, I attempted to focus more on what I was feeling as well as why and tried to note them down as much as I could. Both times I played the games cooperatively with my friends. 

Wild Rift Tournament

Lens 43 – The Lens of Competitiveness

Knowledge, experience and timing makes up for the skill of the player. For example, knowing how the enemy would play or where to be at the right time would give one an edge over others. As such, those who play a lot and know how every champion is played will certainly be better than others. Those who understand the strategy and different tactics employed by different team composition will also enjoy an easier game. The game implemented a ranking system to promote competitiveness among players. Rewards and showcasing of rank was provided to incentivise players to competitively move up the ranks. The popularity of the game makes the bragging rights of having a high rank something of significance. Furthermore, there has been official tournaments for the game, with the champions of 2022 winning $12,000 in prizes money. 

Lens 44 – The Lens of Cooperation

Personally, I believe this to be the most important experience. As this is a 5v5 game, it is definitely more fun to be playing with friends. The experience that I felt was friendship as well as the creation of memories that we could joke about. For example, if my friend was to miraculously win a game for us, we would be celebrating as though we had won the World Cup. Such camaraderie from the game made it more enjoyable than playing alone. However, this is not to say that playing alone is not fun. Friendships can be forged with players of similar play style. Chat function is enabled for communication as well as quick emoji pings for fast and simple requests. Players can add each other as friends and there is a guild feature which allows people to team up and earn rewards together.

Lens 5 – The Lens of Fun

The plethora of champions to use as well as different items and play style makes it such that no game is ever similar and boring. The replayability of the game is infinite as a player can always try a new champion or just play with a different team competition and strategy. The combination of strategy, tactics, skill and opportunities employed in the game makes it fun as players outplay each other to get an advantage. The nature of the game also allows for some teams to have a miraculous victory in the last few minutes. This creates a sense that anything is possible and to never give up.

Lens 9 – The Lens of Elemental Tetrad


Character Screen

The game is aesthetically pleasing. Character models are nice and the map is very detailed. Since the game has mechanics which includes map vision, the map is especially detailed of which are actually interacting and can affect a players decision during the game. Each character has an animation as well as sound. Furthermore, the game provides extra skins and poses for players to personalise their champion. 


The mechanics of the game is simple and straightforward. The strategy is what makes the game so unique with infinite possibilities. While it is simple to understand, it is hard to master. The game really takes a while to get used to and this may be daunting for newer players. Overall, MOBA is tried and tested (DOTA, Pokemon UNITE) and remains to be largely popular. 


The story is where I felt lacked as the developer of the game had a backstory for each champion but never tied it all down. However, they recently released a Netflix series which linked champions together in a story. This made players more inclined to play the champions that they saw in the series as they could relate to the character. It must be noted that whatever happens in the game does not affect the storyline in any way. The storyline merely provides a backstory for the characters to have relatability to players. Perhaps they could have more stories and continue the series while introducing more champions so that players know how each champion is interlinked.


Wild Rift is played on a mobile phone. Personally I felt that this was game changing to me as I am usually on the move and this gave me the chance to game while I was out. The frame rate is stable and rarely any lag. The fact that League of Legends is able to be ported from PC to mobile shows the growth in technology and ability of mobile phones to handle games. 

Lens 27 The Lens of Time

The duration of the game is good. For this to be a mobile game, the developers made it such that one game lasts 15-20 minute. It does not feel too long nor too short. Furthermore, they introduced shorter 10 minute versions of the game.

Lens 32 The Lens of Goals

The goals of the game is understandable and progress is clearly defined. The progress can be based on the money earned, the jungle goals cleared as well as towers destroyed and kills made. As such, players can gauge how close they are to winning. The game also sets aside different mini goals for different champions. For example, those in the jungle should aim to keep the dragon while those in the lane should focus on taking down the towers. By having different goals, players actually work together to help each other clear these objectives. Sometimes it may not be as clear who is winning as some champions develop later in the game. Thus, while the goals can be estimated, the tide can turn just as quickly. 

Lens 46 The Lens of Reward

Rewards for playing Ranked Games

Reward of killing in the game is the money, which can be used to buy items to be stronger and thus to kill more enemies. The reward for playing the game is in game currency which can be used to personalise the game to make it feel uniquely yours. Currency can be used to unlock more unique champions as well to increase the replayability of the game. Furthermore, there is a level bar which increases with every game and provides rewards at every level. 

Lens 68 The Lens of Moments

Replay and statistics

As a new feature, Wild Rift now records key moments in the game. Triple kills and team fights are automatically recorded and can be downloaded. Statistics such as damage dealt and turrets destroyed are also saved and kept so that players can track their progress. Furthermore, there are various third party applications that track statistics such as total kills and deaths and allows players to compare themselves. As such, moments in the game can be tracked and saved.

Overall, Wild Rift is a game with many dimensions and lenses to consider. All these add up to a holistic and fun experience!

Don’t Starve Together

Don't Starve Together Details - LaunchBox Games Database

A standalone sequel to the well-received predecessor: <Don’t Starve>, <Don’t Starve Together> is a multiplayer survival game with cartoon-style graphics set in a scary yet quirky 2.5D world. Produced by Klei entertainment, it is available on Windows, macOS, Linux, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Players have to survive in a randomly generated world with monsters lurking in the dark. Players will cooperate and gather resources to defend themselves against the harsh elements and enemies, eventually thriving in the dark and mysterious world. During their adventure into this dark realm, they will have to constantly monitor: their ever-depleting health, hunger and sanity statuses. Players can craft weapons to defend themselves against monsters and search for food to curb hunger. Players must gather enough resources in the day to sustain fire through the nighttime; otherwise, something in the dark will drive the player insane. As a rogue-like game, death spells Game over for the players. Thus, they will have to strategise and navigate the world carefully to survive for as long as possible.

Game Website:


Game Demo:

Lens of Elemental Tetrad


1. Characters

There is a large array of characters to play from. Each of them has a unique perk and quirk. The quirk provides the player with a certain advantage during gameplay at the cost of the perk where the player will be faced with a certain constraint. An example will be a character called Wigfrid who deals additional damage to monsters but this character can only sustain her hunger status with a particular type of food. 


2. Monsters

There is a large variety of monsters that the player can encounter that has different abilities and methods to defeat. An example is a boss monster called the Spider Queen which can spawn smaller spider monsters. One of the creative methods in defeating her is through the use of the environment by luring it to a place that spawns pig monsters and letting them defeat her. 

3. Crafting

Players can craft various tools and weapons that serve different functions that can help them further the game.

4. Day/Night cycle

There will be a perpetual day and night cycle where the players will have to carry out resource gathering in the day and survive the night time with gathered resources and fire where the monsters are more active.

its not dark in night time - Don't Starve Together: Return of Them - Klei  Entertainment Forums

5. Seasons

There are different seasons such as summer and winter where they will have a different environmental effect on the player. For example, winter will cause the player to freeze thus they will have to regularly seek a heat source to maintain the character body temperature otherwise their health will start depleting quickly.

Don't Starve Winter Guide [+ Mods] | DS & DST - Basically Average

6. Randomly generated map

The random and procedural generated map with different monster spawns provide the player a unique experience with every game play.


The characters lore are not directly discoverable in the game but instead embedded as puzzles in various animated update trailers to entice the player to discover and piece together the backstory for the different characters.


The style of the graphic is gloomy yet comical similar to a movie based on Tim Burton novel: “The nightmare before Christmas”, effectively setting an eerie tone yet a palatable experience even for the faint of heart. The environment and monsters appearance change with the varying season. Players can also discover and update the skins of their different characters to spice up their gameplay.

Steam Workshop::DST Cosmetic Mods


This game is developed using a custom-build in c++ engine which has since ported to numerous platform. As most of the gameplay scripts were written using LUA, it has high portability which allows the game to be available on numerous platform. Adobe Flash are largely used for the art of the game and it uses FMOD as its sound effects engine.

Lens of Skill

  • The game expect the players to have a good micro-management skill as there are numerous status and resources for the player to manage.
  • The game expect the players to have the standard gaming skills such as kitting and side stepping when they are dealing with monsters.
  • The game expect the players to strategies and plan the direction of gameplay they will adopt depending on the player spawn area and the type of resources make available to the player at the start of the game. The players have to be flexible and take in consideration of the random factors when they are coming up with tactics.
  • Large amount of knowledge to be learnt for the game

The large number of skills that is required from the player to be good at the game helps to create a steep learning curve.

Lens of Chance

  • Varying rarity of skins to customise different character are obtainable from simply playing the game. It serves as an additional motivation for the players to continue playing the game.
  • Monsters have varying drop rate. Boss monsters have a low chance of dropping extremely useful items that player can use to craft advance tools to further advance the game. Players have to constantly weight their risk and reward with their current status as boss monster can easily make or break their current gameplay.
  • There are various type of terrain with their associated monster that can be randomly generated as the player explore the map. Only certain monster drop items that the player required in a certain point of time.

The randomness are well balanced to give the player a mixed sense of excitement and challenge. It also helps to create a unique experience with every gameplay and ultimately helps in retaining the game’s player base.  

Lens of Challenge

  • The game has a balanced level of difficulty where it gets progressively more difficulty in the form of seasons where the constraints becomes more unforgiving.
  • With so many verbs and objects that a player can interact with, there is a steep learning curve for a player to be good in the gamer.

The steep learning curve ensures that when a player becomes better at the game, the player does not get bored quickly as the player will eventually progress into a point in the game where he will not be able to survive due to the increasing difficulty. This motivates the player to get better at the game such that the player can advance further into the game. The game has balanced difficulty and skills really well as the progressive increase in difficulty ensures that the player does not experience anxiety because of a large gap in skills and difficulty level.

Lens of Freedom

  • Players are allowed to do anything they want, free to explore any part of the map without direct constraints.
  • Players are allowed to craft any tools, use their creativity to survive the game as there are no one correct method to play the game.
  • Indirect constraints like the character quirks and perks, day/night cycle and seasons

The game has indirect control over the player through constraints and goals. It forces the player to player the game in a certain manner and carry out certain task within certain time interval. However, a sense of freedom is created by leaving it up to the players to figure out new and interesting ways to meet the restrictions and goals. Players will not daunted by the large degree of freedom the game provides as they have a clear goal to head towards using the freedom given.

Lens of Community

  • The game allows players to host their own servers and play with their friends and even strangers from different parts of the world.
  • Dedicated forum for the game where players can share their experience and knowledge of the game.

With so many different factors in the game influencing the gameplay, there are too many interactions for one player to discover on his own. Players are encouraged to play with different people and learn from each other to tackle the steep learning curve. This helps foster a knitted community of players.   


In summary, this game is known to be difficult and I definitely recommend it to anyone who likes a good challenge.


OMORI is a role-playing game developed by OMOCAT and released in December 2020. It features elements of psychological horror and touches on sensitive subjects like dealing with and overcoming anxiety, depression, and loss. Through the lens of a shut-in kid named Sunny and his dream-world counterpart, the titular Omori, we come to learn of the world and the people around them, the troubles they struggle with and secrets they keep.

Final Trailer (2020)

Lens 9: Elemental Tetrad


OMORI’s game mechanics can be split into two different kinds, namely overworld exploration and combat. 


Exploration of the overworld is in similar fashion to that of other 2D RPGs like Undertale: top-down perspective and 2D navigation with arrow keys (or the D-pad on controllers), interacting with the environment (talking, picking up items, initiating battles etc) using the Z/X keys (specific buttons vary on controllers).

Navigating in the overworld.

Throughout these worlds, the player will encounter enemies. These can come in the form of regular enemies randomly traversing the overworld where the team might engage in battle by coming into contact with them (or avoid if they wish to), or as compulsory battles like bosses. These battles employ a separate set of mechanics.


OMORI employs a turn-based battle system with a unique twist: in line with the game’s central themes, it incorporates emotions into the effectiveness of attacks in battle. The four members of OMORI’s team battle together, and there are four emotions each member of the team can hold: happy, sad, angry, or neutral. In addition, each member can learn a move-set of up to four moves, learning new, more powerful moves as experience is gained. Each move is associated with one of these emotions as well. 

In combat with food-themed bunnies.

In accordance to a scissors-paper-stone-like system, different moves deal different kinds of damage depending on their associated emotions, as well as the emotion of the target. Using moves or items, any participant in battle can have their emotions changed.


The story of OMORI is the essence of the game. Heavy juxtaposition is thrown at the player as they are brought back and forth between Sunny’s less-than-ideal real life and the super-cutesy, idealised dream world in his head. Through exploring the world further and learning more about our protagonist and the people around them, key themes of the causes and effects of trauma, anxiety, depression and isolation are explored, heavily reinforced and supported by the game’s simple yet powerful visuals.


2D pixel art-based assets are what is mostly used in the overworld, and hand-drawn art and animation are used in battle sequences and during cutscenes. The game also features a diverse soundtrack album with close to 200 original tracks. While not exceedingly detailed or complex, the aesthetics are well used to complement the story: The dream world and the real world are shown in clear contrast in terms of the colours used in the art as well as the intensity of the music. 

Omori’s room in the dream world.
Sunny’s friend’s house in the real world.


The game began development in 2014 using RPG Maker. The game was made available on Windows and Mac OS upon initial release with controller support, and a Nintendo Switch port was later announced for Spring 2022. Aside from OMOCAT and their team’s express desire to use RPG Maker to “promote this platform that supports and provides the tools for DIY storytelling and game-making”, the use of RPG Maker was perfect for their ideas of a simple visual style and 2D gameplay. The game consequently does not have expensive memory, graphics or storage requirements, making it more accessible for the player base.

Lens 38: Challenge

In relation to challenging the player, OMORI does a good job of that through requiring an increase in the player’s ability to work their way through battles. As you progress from area to area within OMORI’s dream world, the player encounters enemies and bosses of increasing strength, meant to match their own increasing strength so the characters can continue to gain experience and level up. There is a need for the player to have gained sufficient experience by the time the boss fight is reached so as to not lack the raw firepower to take them down, and a need to have sufficient planned out move combinations or when to use items to be able to tactically overwhelm the enemy.

Personally, during my play-through of this game, the initial stages were fairly smooth-sailing, being able to overcome enemies and area bosses without too much difficulty. Around mid-game though I found myself unable to keep up with the game’s difficulty. I found the need to boost my team a fair bit by grinding experience and the need for more planning in terms of battle strategies. Even past this point, battles further down the road continued to pose challenges: the difficulty growth does not let up, and the game makes sure to keep you on your toes essentially the entire way through.

Lens 79: Freedom

There is a need to constrain the player to somewhat of a linear path through the dream and real worlds in order for the story to be properly told: it would not make sense in the case of OMORI to give the player total freedom of exploration when the core of the game is in the storytelling, which is done by directing the player to and from the two worlds in order to slowly provide context to the plot and let the player clue in to the game’s key themes.

While in the grand scheme of things the player does not have total freedom of exploration as you might see in open world games, on a smaller level the player is given the freedom to do things at their own pace as they discover and explore new areas. New areas afford the player the chance to explore the areas for themselves to figure out what needs to be done rather than spoon-feeding instructions and directions. The game also introduces side quests every once in a while that require traversing through previously explored areas, and even includes entire areas that are optional for the player to discover and survey if they wish. 

Lens 91: Character Transformation

The story of OMORI is centered on the character transformation of the protagonist Sunny as he struggles to overcome his trauma and anxiety. As the plot progresses, the player gets to experience and see up close the different kinds of fears our protagonist has, how he can work to overcome them, and how he can eventually come to terms with himself.

With regard to Sunny’s friends, since the story is viewed solely through the eyes of Sunny/Omori, their transformations do not necessarily come in the form of character growth or maturity as the plot progresses but rather as a juxtaposition of their personalities, qualities and relationships between the dream world and real world. These changes can initially be surprising and interesting, inspiring the player to find out more. Eventually, through studying the protagonist’s psyche, the player will come to understand why exactly these disparities exist.

Lens 6: Curiosity

As with story-driven games like OMORI, the player motivation stems from a desire for plot progression and learning more about the world and the characters in it. 

The game begins with a mysterious cutscene: the player doesn’t know who the characters are or what they’re talking about. We are then dropped directly into the game, into an ominous barren landscape called WHITE SPACE where we meet Omori who has apparently been there for as long as he can remember. What is this place? Why have we always been here? What did that opening sequence mean? We later meet a bunch of our friends and set out to explore the world. Everyone is having fun and everything seems just fine, until suddenly it isn’t. The player then wakes up in the real world as Sunny, and more questions arise.

The game starts out with a cold, potentially vague and confusing opening that forces the player to ask questions, questions that can only be answered by making progress through the plot. As the game takes the player on a journey to uncover our protagonist’s secrets, we gradually get more and more context, and more of our questions are answered, but we never truly know everything until the very end.

Divinity: Original Sin 2

Divinity: Original Sin 2 is an adventure role-playing game made by Larian Studios. The game allows for a single-player system where a player controls multiple characters or an online co-op system where each player controls only one character. The two main aspects of the game are the interactions and dialogues with in-game objects and non-player characters (NPCs), and the tactical turn-based combat. I personally think the x-factor of the game is the complexity of the game and the freedom of the players, which means there are many different ways that the players can progress the story, each providing a different experience for the players.

link: https://divinity.game/

demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJ4SVSm1ARQ&ab_channel=PlayStation

Elemental Tetrad:


  • Exploration & Interaction

In Divinity: Original Sins 2, the players explore the world from a bird’s eye view perspective by clicking on where they want to move to. There are also skills that the players can learn to navigate the world in more interesting ways, such as telekinesis to move objects around, or teleportation to get to seemingly inaccessible parts of the terrain. The players can interact with objects and NPCs through a dialogue box, where the players can choose the different dialogue options.

interactive dialogue options example
  • Combat

The game uses tactical turn-based combat. The players have a set amount of action points they can use each turn, and every attack, skill, or item-use costs action points. As items and skills usage is limited by action points and cooldowns, the crux of the combat is planning effective combat strategies.

combat example


The setting of the game is a fantasy world where the world is under attack from the “Void”, and the “Divine” (a person with God-bestowed powers), who is supposed to hold back the “Void”, is dead. The player(s) role-play as characters who are “Sourcerers” (people who have special magical abilities) and fight against the “Void” and try to become the new “Divine”.

Although the background story is the same, the players are able to choose different characters and customise to their liking at the start of the game, which changes the players’ dialogue options and behaviour of some NPCs (e.g. some NPCs are hostile to only some characters), hence changing the story. On top of that, the players’ decisions can also drastically change the story based on their action choices.

character creation example


The game has beautifully crafted terrains and environments, as well as well-made combat animations. However, I personally feel that the aesthetics in Divinity: Original Sins 2 especially excels in the characters, from the unique designs to the expressive voice acting, the game was able to make the characters come alive and feel easy to connect with.


Larian Studios made Divinity using the Divinity Engine Toolkit, which players can use to create their own modifications to the game that they can play with their friends. The game is cross-platform and is available on Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, macOS, Nintendo Switch, and iPadOS. With the same Larian Studios account, the progress can also be shared across platforms.

Other lenses:

Lens 79 – Freedom

While playing the game, the biggest thing that struck me was the seemingly unlimited degree of freedom I had as a player. Right from the beginning, when interacting with NPCs, the players can choose from many different options on what to do or say to affect how the story progresses. For example, the player can choose to befriend or make enemies out of almost all the main NPCs. The players have so much freedom that if they so choose, they could kill all the NPCs. This freedom makes the choices made by the players very meaningful, and gives the game very high replay value for me, as I would want to know how the story would progress if I had chosen another option.

On top of that, unlike many role-playing games, the skills and weapons in the game are not limited to specific characters or classes of characters. This means that players would be able to freely experience all the different skills and weapons throughout the game even in a single play-through.

Lens 8 – Problem Solving

While playing the game, I found the battles in the game very challenging and had to strategise very carefully to beat the enemies. This was an aspect that made the combat very interesting to me, as every combat would feel like solving a problem you are faced with. One example is how different combinations of skills have different effects on different types of enemies. For instance, water skills make the enemy wet, and wet enemies become more vulnerable to ice and lightning attacks. However, there are enemies with different types of elemental resistance, so the strategy needs to be varied for each enemy. Another example is how high-ground attacks are more effective than low-ground attacks, so positioning is also an important strategy aspect. These complicated aspects of the combat make the combat very puzzle-like, which is fun and rewarding for players who are able to put the right pieces together.

Lens 44 – Cooperation

Although the game can be played by a single player, I personally enjoyed the cooperative mode more, as it feels like going on an adventure with your friends. Coupled with the complexity of the combat, synergising your skills and moves with your friends is a degree of difficulty in cooperation that can bring fun and challenge to the players. In addition, the freedom of each player also allows for more randomness in the story, as your friends may choose different dialogue options that cause the story to progress in unexpected ways.

Lens 85 – The Avatar

Like many other role-playing games, Divinity: Original Sins 2 allows players to customise their character’s appearances and skills to their liking. On top of that, Divinity also allows players to customise the type of person their character would be. For example, the players can choose “origin tags” for their character, which mainly affects the possible dialogue options the players will have in the game. For instance, a character with the “scholar” tag will have different dialogue options from a character with the “outlaw” tag. Another example is the ability to learn civil skills such as persuasion and bartering, which also affects the possibilities in the gameplay. I feel that these extra ways in which the players can customise their characters can really help them feel more connected to their avatars in the game.

choosing origin tags example

CS3247 Game Review

The game I want to review is Genshin Impact, a popular action role-playing game. Official website: Genshin Impact – Step Into a Vast Magical World of Adventure (mihoyo.com)

Do not know why I cannot upload images, so I am using a screenshot by someone else

I started playing the game several days after its release, and I have been playing for more than one year now.

Game Experience

1. Exploration

When the player just starts playing the game, there are tons of things to explore, the combat system, different characters, unknown areas on the map, etc. This is probably one of the most enjoyable parts of the game, the beautiful game scenes, the great music, the interesting stories and characters, as well as some unexpected but nice details.

The Lens of Problem Solving: There are a lot of puzzles in the game at this stage, some hard content also require player to adjust their combat strategies.

still not my picture

2. Casual Daily Activities

Although the game has a lot of great content, players will still finish doing most quests and exploring most areas eventually. For many games, this means the game is finished, and the player will either play again or quit. But that is not completely true for Genshin Impact, there are many players like me who have finished most content of the game but still play the game everyday.

The experience of the game becomes mostly doing daily quests and farming resources, as well as participating in the various events from the game updates.

The Lens of Time: The gameplay time decreases significantly at this stage, which can be frustrating sometimes. But spending less time on game is actually not a bad thing (can focus more on real life activities).

Players can farm resources in dungeons

3. Making Progress

Doing similar things everyday does not sound very interesting, and some people indeed quitted the game after the finishing the “exploration” state of the game. So why are there still many people willing to do the repeating daily events and farming?

As I am one of those people, I think I can share why I am not getting bored with the repeating tasks in some games.

MAKING PROGRESS. Although doing daily events and farming can feel repetitive, but the resources gotten can make the player’s characters stronger and also allow them to pull for new character or weapons. The feeling of getting stronger/making progress is really satisfying, especially when the progress is becoming from some “hard work”. This can also apply to real life, for instance, some people enjoy workout as they can feel that they are getting stronger in the process.

The Lens of Motivation: Making progress is a crucial motivation of the game, how to keep this motivation or add new types of motivation is something that need to be considered carefully.

4. Communication with other Players

A large amount of time I spent in Genshin Impact was chatting, most of the time with the friends I know in real life.

The Lens of Friendship: Features such as visiting other players’ worlds and doing dungeons with other players are nice to have.

Honor of Kings (王者荣耀)


Honor of Kings (王者荣耀 in Chinese) is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) developed by TiMi Studio Group and published by Tencent Games for the iOS and Android mobile platforms for the Chinese market. Released in 2015, it has become the most popular MOBA game in mainland China. Nowadays, the game has more than 100 million daily active players. However, as a phenomenal game in China, it is largely unheard of in the rest of the world.

Link to the official website: https://pvp.qq.com/

Link to game play demo: https://youtu.be/JGBojVkNE-M

Lens #9: The lens of Elemental Tetrad


The sophistication and variety of skins form a major part of the game’s aesthetics and also play a crucial role in generating revenue. The most representational example is the skin of Zhao Yun (a famous military general who lived during Three Kingdoms period of China) raises 150 million RMB within one day. Originated in China, the design with oriental aesthetics perfectly integrates with Chinese traditional culture and history, bringing in visual enjoyment to players. The very fast update of skins provides players an extremely large number of appreance choices and lots of freshness. The skin design competition improves the player participation and involvement in creating a skin of their interest, maintaining high player stickiness.

A skin of Zhao Yun


The most popular mode is the 5v5 player versus player matches. The basic gameplay involves controlling a hero with unique abilities to kill non-player characters and opponents to gain experience and gold, with experience used to unlock their character’s abilities or further augment the ability’s power, and gold used to purchase items at the shop (which change specific attributes depending on the item bought).

The teams start on opposing ends of the map, with the victory conditions either being to destroy the enemy’s core building or the enemy team surrendering. To destroy the enemy Nexus(core building), teams must destroy defensive turrets, which are situated on the 3 main routes(top, middle, bottom) used to reach the enemy base.

106 Heroes are categorized into 6 types: tank, assassin, warrior, support, archer, and mage. Players adopt various strategies in the picks and bans of heroes and collaboration within the team.

Map of Honor of Kings


Honor of Kings has a rather complex storyline though many players are attracted by its game mode to a larger extent. The heroes usually originate from folklore, mythology, or mythical creatures, with others coming from works of literature, movies, and even other in-game heroes. This greatly enriches the diversity of the game’s story and increases the player’s familiarity with the game characters.

Character from Chinese history


As a real-time MOBA game, the requirements for back-end servers and networks are very demanding, and higher requirements are placed on cloud service providers. Frame synchronization technology is utilized to ensure low latency of game. Also, the development of the mobile Internet and the popularity of smartphones have contributed to the success of the game.

Lens #27: The Lens of Time

The average time taken for one game is 15-20 minutes. Not-too-long game duration makes it easier for players to open the game in various scenarios. On the streets of China, you will see people of various occupations playing this game with friends during their work break. Commuting on the bus and subway and waiting for food in restaurants is no longer so boring with this game. 

At the same time, the gaming duration is not too short as well. Players will experience all stages of the game, feel the visible progress, the improvement of the character level, the gradual destruction of the turrets until the final breakthrough of the Nexus, which can bring players a rich game experience within only 20 minutes.

Lens #45: The Lens of Competition vs Cooperation

The special region-based ranking system motivates competition among players. The system indicates a player’s ranking in his home street, county, city, province, and even the whole country. It encourages players to achieve a higher ranking in their own region, and then enter a higher level to compete with players from all over the country. Meanwhile, it does not discourage players too much because players will always find a suitable level and achieve a higher ranking.

Honor of Kings encourages the players to cooperate with teammates and defeat the opponents. The design of 6 hero types is an excellent example, 5 players within the same team are supposed to choose heroes of different roles to form complementary abilities and improve the overall strength of the team.

Draftpick of heroes

Lens #46: The Lens of Reward

Throughout the game, players get various kinds of rewards which brings lots of sense of achievement.


Experience value and gold are the two most important resources in the game, player gains them by killing heroes, other characters and destroying turrets. Resources lead to the higher value of attributes and better weapons, improving the power of the hero.

The unique sound and light special effects:

Players get special effects and sign on top of the screen when they achieve a killing spree. Compliments from teammates and loss of opponents greatly bring satisfaction to the player.

Effects of Killing spree


The player gets a buff, which is a status effect given to the hero that gives it a beneficial boost to their performance. The increase in power makes it easier to get the victory and the special appearance of a buff is another kind of reward to the player as well.

Lens# 96: The Lens of Friendship

Relying on WeChat and QQ, two billion-level communication tools, players can easily team up with real friends by logging in through WeChat or QQ. The process of playing together helps strengthen friendship and forms a community of Kings of Glory. Matching with unfamiliar teammates also allows players to meet new friends and form a larger social circle. Playing the game together rapidly breaks the ice among people and creates more possibilities for a closer relationship with other players. Convenient sharing of the game in WeChat moments and Qzone increases the game exposure and improves the discussion of the game among friends.

Logging in with WeChat or QQ account


Unpacking: A life and romance told through stuff – Bloom Reviews


Unpacking is a zen puzzle game in which players are tasked to, you know, unpack. The game narrative follows an unnamed character that players help to unpack for between the years 1995 to 2015. While unpacking for various house moves, the player learns of clues about the character’s life story. For a game with no dialogue and little to no words used, it is impressive to be able to craft a character’s personality through unpacking boxes. It is no wonder the game is also a finalist of several categories for the Independent Games Festival 2022, including Excellence in Design, Excellence in Narrative and Excellence in Audio.

Gameplay Video

The Elemental Tetrad

Unpacking is essentially a simple game to play in terms of mechanics as it mainly involves using the mouse to point and click to move items to places you want. The game starts off small in a child’s room which allows the player to adapt to the game mechanics before slowly moving to larger living spaces which are larger puzzles to solve.
There are no time pressures while playing the game as there are no countdown timers, so the players can have a easy and relaxing time playing the game.

The storytelling in Unpacking is a very interesting element they have. Instead of specific dialogue happening in-game, the players are given hints in the form of items present in each level when they unpack the boxes. Players can identify what are the items that were brought over from the character’s previous house to their new house, and what are the items that are new to the story.
Unpacking allows players to unpack not just boxes, but eventually the life story about the character in the game.

The game uses an isometric, pixel art aesthetic, coupled with satisfying sounds when interacting with different objects. The game soundtracks and sound effects add to the relaxing experience for players. The game sound design includes over 14,000 foley effects, with multiple pick-up and placement sound effects unique to each item.

Unpacking supports gameplay on Xbox, Nintendo Switch and PC.

The Lens of Emotions

With the gameplay centered around the character’s life progression, the player is influenced to be attached to the story and changes while the game progresses. This captivates the player to continue playing the game to discover what comes next and leaves the player wanting more.

Besides the usual gameplay, the game also provides an option for the player to review their whole attempt at the end of the round. The player is given a fast forward clip of their whole attempt when unpacking the boxes, showing how the items fill up the initially empty room or house. This gives a sense of satisfaction to the player at the end of the round, making them feel accomplished and motivated to continue playing another round.

The Lens of Curiosity

As the story is not told in an outright manner through dialogue or usage of words, the player is often left wondering what the subtle hints given by the game actually means.
The life story of the character slowly unfolds as the player progresses through the different stages.

The Lens of Challenge

Unpacking challenges the player to arrange the items given in boxes in a satisfying manner, figuring out and placing the items where they belong. Initially, the first few levels are relatively easier but it slowly progresses to a higher level of difficulty as players are given more items to unpack. Eventually, players are challenged to be able to figure out the correct placement for the items.

However, it can also be argued that there is less of a challenge when playing Unpacking due to its ultimate goal to be a zen puzzle game that allows the player to have a relaxing experience. There is no time limit for the player to work against, and there is no other character or player to beat.

The Lens of Fairness

The game allows many different ways for each level to be solved, which makes sense as there are different places where people prefer items to be placed. In a sense, this mechanic makes it fair for players as opposed to having just one strict answer to the puzzle.