Celeste is a widely popular indie game centred around themes of depression, anxiety, mental health and self-realisation. In it, the player controls a young girl named Madeline, who tries to climb Celeste Mountain while facing the challenges that arise from the natural landscape and from her own fractured sense of identity. 

The Elemental Tetrad

Mechanics and Technology

The core gameplay loop of Celeste is based around a series of successively more difficult platforming “rooms” that make up bigger chapters, carrying along the story as the player moves higher and higher up Celeste Mountain. One of Celeste’s most endearing features is its simplicity of controls and mechanics. The player only has three main movement options: the jump, the dash (a sudden burst of speed in a chosen direction) and the wall climb. Crucially, the player refreshes their dash every time they hit the ground, and are only allowed to cling to a wall for a short duration before they lose stamina and fall. The limited chances to use the dash force the player to strategize appropriately across a room: using momentum to launch yourself across a large gap, stalling in the air with a dash to just get enough horizontal coverage, and nearly frame-perfect dashes in a particular direction are all elements Celeste demands mastery of in order to climb through its chapters. 

Celeste doesn’t throw all of this at you at once, though, instead opting to introduce techniques progressively and building upon everything the player has learned to make them better and better at the game. This is the reason speedrunners the world over adore Celeste: playing the game makes you better at the game. After finishing the final level in the main story, any average player could go back to the start and find themselves remarkably faster, better and using advanced techniques with ease. Certainly, the levels are hard, but never to the extent of frustration. Instead, the quick respawn animation and emphasis on improvement over speed or death count gives the player an intrinsic motivation to keep going until they finally clear a tricky room or sequence.


If the gameplay loop is what draws the player in, the aesthetics keep them hooked. The 8-bit, minimalist artwork of Celeste is captivating and perfectly gels with the game’s tone and gameplay style. The screen rumbles when you boost, the respawn animation zooms in on the death point and fades out the entire screen, only to put you back in almost immediately. Each chapter has its own unique art style, and the background reflects the journey Madeline is taking up the mountain. Where the game truly shines and comes into its own, though, is the soundtrack. Each track feels like it was crafted for its level from scratch, and the 8-bit synth feels very natural within the setting. Both elements come together to create a thoroughly immersive, transformative and endearing experience, that not only lets you control Madeline, but truly become her and empathise with her journey through the course of the game. Perhaps this is why so many regard clearing Celeste’s toughest challenges as badges of honour: there is a deep empathy to the journey of the game as it relates to the journey of the player.


Celeste has a simple story at heart: a young girl climbs up a mountain while battling her self-doubt, anxiety and depression. From Granny’s mocking to the physical embodiment of Madeline’s dark side, the game portrays Madeline’s internal conflict through subliminal aesthetic messaging as well as astute storytelling and dialogue. Most importantly, however, is the idea of getting used to failing again and again just to get better (which the game encourages!), while using Madeline’s growing strengths and realisations. The game deftly ties together Madeline’s personal growth with her in-game movement options to lead the player on a parallel journey of personal improvement as well: one of patience and mastery of a craft. It’s not about defeating the voice in your head, says the game, it’s about working together with it. With a broadly appealing message and a subtly woven message about mental health underneath, Celeste uses simplicity of design and game design to drive home its key messages. 


The Lens of Accessibility

At its core, clearing Celeste’s rooms is a puzzle. From the very first bunny hops across a collapsing bridge to the final mid-air dashes off a moving platform, Celeste introduces progressively harder puzzles. The puzzles are structured as a means to mastery and intended as a labour of love. Try your first idea, see if it works, find an idea that is feasible, get the inputs perfect, and execute it. Rinse and repeat. Where Celeste finds its niche, however, is its Assist Mode. It offers a huge variety of assist options (additional dashes, slowing down the game, invincibility, etc.), and allows you to tune the degree of each of them that is enabled. The result is possibly the most accessible platformer ever created, with something for every possible player. On the other side are the challenge levels (B and C sides) and golden strawberries, which amp up the difficulty immensely and offer more content and challenge for those that desire it. 

The Lens of Obstacle

Celeste is tough. There’s no two ways about it. From the platforming challenges to the pursuit levels to the weaving between rows of spikes as a golden feather, it requires the player to be on top of their game to clear each room. The obstacles are presented both by the landscape itself, and from within Madeline’s mind. As the terrain gets more challenging and Madeline confronts more of her intrusive thoughts, the platforming becomes tougher. It feels like you’re fighting not just against the mountain, but against Madeline’s internal conflict as well. The difficulty represents the mountain, the journey of the player, as well as Madeline’s own struggles. It all comes to a crescendo at the peak, where Madeline finally embraces the supposedly evil Part of Her and uses their combined powers to get to the top.

The Lens of the Avatar

Madeline has wide empathetic appeal. She’s young, struggling with anxiety and intrusive thoughts, and wants to show herself and the world what she’s capable of. It’s a premise most young people today find themselves in often. The approach the game presents to overcoming these issues, however, is non-intuitive: embrace every part of you and let go of what you can’t control. It’s an abstract thought that’s difficult to fully appreciate when conveyed verbally, but when presented through the metaphor of climbing a mountain, it sinks in. As the player overcomes platforming challenges and witnesses Madeline struggling with her own issues, there’s a deep empathy that arises from the parallel struggles. In this way, the game not only provides a meaningful and challenging experience, but conveys important lessons about approaching your own anxiety and dealing with mental health.

The Lens of the Toy

At the end of the day, Celeste is a game. From the moment you’re dropped into it, Celeste gives you no clues. You figure out how to move, and you figure out how to jump. Sure, the game gives you the basic controls (dashing, clinging to the wall, etc.), but whenever additional mechanics are introduced (spikes, moving platforms, launch bubbles, etc.) you’re largely left to poke them and see what they do. The game prioritises player exploration, and encourages the player to figure out the way they want to approach and solve each room. In a way, it’s like fitting Play-Doh into a shaped mould. There is an obvious way to solve the puzzle: mould it exactly. But you could also take a shortcut: tear it into two pieces and drop them in. The game never boxes the player in with rules or arrows pointing where to go: you are free to explore the branching paths and get the strawberries if you want to. You play at your pace, the way you want to. 

Escape from Tarkov


Escape from Tarkov is a hardcore and realistic online first-person action RPG/Simulator with MMO features and a story-driven walkthrough.

Official website: https://www.escapefromtarkov.com/

Play demo:

Analysis through the Elemental Tetrad


Apart from normal FPS games, EFT has a rich and complete background setting.

The events of the Escape from Tarkov take place in the fictional Norvinsk’s region Special Economic Zone that became a gateway between Russia and Europe. Preferential conditions for large international companies, however, have not only attracted law-abiding businesses but corporations of dubious intent as well. In Tarkov, one of the largest cities in the region, a transatlantic corporation became the ground zero of a political scandal. Six months later, the political standoff escalated into an armed conflict involving UN peacekeepers, Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and two private military companies. The region’s borders were sealed off, and those trapped in the middle of this local warfare flare-up were isolated from the outside world.

The players will have to experience living in the skin of one of the mercenaries who survived the initial stage of the Tarkov conflict. After choosing one of the sides – USEC or BEAR – the player’s character starts to make his way out of the city. Tarkov is sealed off by the UN and Russian military, supply chains are cut, communication with operational command is lost, and in these conditions, everyone has to make his own choices of what to do and how to get out of the chaos-ridden metropolis.


  • Unlike other FPS games which clearly highlight the enemies, EFT focuses a lot on reality, so the whole background environment is on a dark scale, very close to the story setting.
  • The Ui design is also simple and gives the player a real feeling of trading in a flea market.
  • High quality of the gun models, each component has its own physic model, which makes the game very realistic as compared to other FPS games


  • No crosshair and no teammate sign. The game simulates the real war-like experience, you do not have any crosshair to assist shooting, so you need to assemble a good sight on your guns. Also, teammates will not be marked on your screen, you may just shoot your teammate without knowing it, so you need to keep communicating with your friends.
  • A giant map with no map display. You can easily get lost inside the giant map. You have to gradually remember all the locations as you keep playing.
  • Gun-assemble system. Almost all parts of the guns can be assembled freely, you can choose better parts for higher stats at a higher price. Players can freely come out with their own design of one gun.
  • Looting and market. Dynamic in-game loots, after successfully survive from a match, players can take out the loots and trade them with other players in the in-game market. Players can then use the money earned to purchase better armour and weapons.
  • PVPVE. Lots of AIs are added to the map with either good or bad weapons, they will shoot players with extreme accuracy. Player has to keep in mind the AIs when looting and combating other players.


Powered by unity, EFT has a very realistic physics engine.

Analysis through Lenses

Lenses of freedom

Unlike other FPS games or PUBG-like games, the only goal is to kill other players and win, Tarkov has more thrilling experiences. Players can choose to wear low-quality armour with a pistol and focus on looting without troubling other players or become an AI-hunter, focusing on killing the in-game bosses or wearing the best armour to seek for killings of players. Player has the freedom to decide what they do within a 45 minutes raid. They only need to arrive at the retreat position in the game on time. This kind of freedom makes the game more possibilities.

Another kind of freedom is the in-game market. Players can choose to become professional traders – make money by trading instead of raiding and fighting. These two layers of freedom extend the playing time greatly.

Lenses of Gambler’s mentality

Imagine you spend 50w in-game dollars on a set of equipment and you are preparing to kill all other players in a raid but after joining the raid for 2 minutes, get killed by an AI. Or you spend only 2000 dollars for a pistol, but you successfully kill an AI and find the body of that full-set player. You can easily earn a lot of money without much effort or lose a lot of money unwillingly. This is in line with the gambler’s mentality. Tarkov catches the mentality of the player and attracts players to use different strategies in games. The in-game currency cannot be purchased and it can only be earned within the game. Therefore, more and more players become gamblers to join a raid and use their luck to earn more money.

Lenses of Cooperation

Tarkov encourages cooperation. They provide an in-game broadcasting mic, to allow players to talk to surrounding players either teammates or enemies. This encourages not only team cooperation but also cooperation among strangers. You can negotiate with another player to peacefully retreat or give them some loot to make them ‘let you go’. Players can trust or distrust but cooperation opportunity is everywhere. Sometimes, two teams can fight together for killing a team of boss AIs, and old birds can help noobs find their task object. This is why EFT is a very ‘socialised’ game.

Lenses of Challenge

Unlike other FPS games, EFT is very difficult to learn. You have to remember the giant map, you have to complete NPC’s tasks, and you have to come out with a cheap but effective gun design. All of those challenges make EFT fun to watch but hard to play. A lot of players are attracted by streaming, but when they play themselves, they found out the game is actually very hard to survive at the start. However, as the playing time increase, you get familiar with the map and other combinations of issues, the game becomes easier and the shooting skills become a new challenge ( what all FPS games require ). This kind of setting makes the game very fruitful.


Try not to play it if you are timid 🙂

Death Stranding – More Than A Grab Simulator


Death Stranding is an action game developed by Kojima Production in 2019. It is the first game from critically acclaimed game director Hideo Kojima after his part-away from Konami. In Death Stranding, players act as Sam Porter Bridges to take a series of delivery quests and reconnect the broken United States. Initially, the game received polarised reviews. Some critics said Death Stranding is nothing but a boring walking simulator while some others claimed it is another masterpiece by the father of metal gear. However, after the outbreak of COVID and the release of the Director’s Cut, this highly innovative game was overwhelmingly approved and received a 93% positive rating on Steam.

Death Stranding Demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxnlTt2BEiM


Death Stranding is set in the fictional United States in the near future. Human civilization suffers from a catastrophic event named the Death Stranding. Countless explosions called “void out” takes place all over the earth. Human beings come to know the existence of “Beach” – the transition place from our world to the afterlife. “Beached Things” (“BTs”) which come from the “Beach” start to roam around the land of the United States and threaten all living beings. Meanwhile, a substance called Chiral Matter is discovered all over the place and cut down all modern ways of connecting with people. In the aftermath of the catastrophes, people have enclosed themselves in a few cities scattered across the continental United States in order to survive. Players will control Sam Porter Bridges, a delivery man of UCA, to connect each city and make America whole again.


Death Stranding has a unique utopian-apocalyptic aesthetic. With the help of futuristic technology, the player wanders across the deserted land. The game’s environments are often desolate and barren, with shades of gray, brown, and black dominating the color palette. This creates a sense of emptiness and isolation, which is fitting for a game that is centered around a post-apocalyptic world. Additionally, the game’s use of lighting is also noteworthy, as it often uses stark contrasts between light and shadow to create a sense of tension and unease. This further emphasizes the themes of loneliness and isolation in the game.



The core mechanic of Death Stranding is “walk”. The player needs to travel from one place to another while protecting cargo carried on themselves from being damaged. In order to make the walking process more interesting, the weight and the arrangement of cargo will affect your speed, gravity center, and how easily you are going to fall off. Meanwhile, the player needs to carefully plan their routines ahead since weather, landscape, and enemies will all greatly impact the difficulty of your delivery. For the battle system, Death Stranding takes the traditional action FPS game way. However, firing weapons not only cost ammo but also your own blood. Thus you need to carefully manage your resources in the battle compared with most other FPS games.

Lens of Endogenous Value

Death Stranding features a “like” system similar to social media nowadays that allows players to receive “likes” from delivery or contribution to NPCs or help other players. Pretty much the most meaningful things you did in the game will award your likes. Pick up cargo lost by other players? You get likes. Kill an enemy? You get likes. Drive past a sign created by another player? You get likes. The “like” system makes almost everything you do meaningful and helpful, which drives the player to keep playing. Moreover, “likes” awarded by other NPCs or players give them blood and flesh other than just cold-blood data on the machine. It again reinforces the sense of accomplishment and gives players motivation to continue playing.

Lens of Community

From: https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/S7fTjp7bVwuBrMBcSTqa7c.jpg

Although Death Stranding is a single-player action game. Some mechanics in the game makes players feel strongly bonded with NPCs and other players. The first noteworthy mechanic is the brilliant building-sharing system. The map will generate buildings built by other players in their game and some of your buildings can also be used by other players in their own game. Under normal circumstances, those buildings will be of big help for your travel across the land. Moreover, you can give “likes” to buildings from other players and vice versa. The building-sharing feature connects players together and greatly enhances the sense of community. In addition, the NPCs in the game will send your emails to share their thoughts or stories from time to time. When you visit their places, they will give your a warm welcome with AR holograms and human voices. All of these make players feel like being in a large community with NPCs and other players.

Lens of Unification

The core theme of Death Stranding is one word: connection. This concept is reflected almost everywhere in this game: The main task of players is to reconnect the cities together. The building sharing is to connect you with other players. As the storyline expands, players will regain knowledge from the past which is a connection from now to the past… Connection is repeatedly emphasized not only in the text but also in various game mechanics.

Lens of Surprise

The map in death stranding will randomly generate lost cargo from other players when the player enters a new area. Meanwhile, a sudden rain or storm can greatly slow your delivery down. In addition, you may get “likes” from other online players for your building when you are walking down the road. Different kind of surprises in this game makes the walking more interesting and have a brand new experience even though you may have traveled the same routines hundreds of times.

Game Analysis – Subnautica (VR)

Written by Ian Hong

Look at those delicious acid mushrooms

I just bought Subnautica last night (thanks steam sale) and I will be offering my thoughts on its VR version. Three of my classmates have previously reviewed this game, but they were all based on the PC version. You can read their reviews here:

I seek to extend their insights through applying various analytical lenses and see whether the experience holds up in virtual reality. We begin our analysis by using the lens of essential experience as a succinct introduction to the game.

Lens 2 – Essential Experience

  • Exploring a dangerous and beautiful alien ocean in first person while trying to find materials to build a ship to escape the planet.
  • It’s like underwater single-player Minecraft with a more compelling plot and a pre-made world map

For those who understand things visually, take a one minute peek using this gameplay clip.

Watch from 4:20 to 6:20 at 2x speed

Now that we’re acquainted with what Subnautica is, let’s analyse why it is fun and what makes it fun. Why are we looking at this first? Because I am interested in how games drive intrinsic motivation, and I hope to apply some of these techniques to non-game contexts to make life easier. For example, imagine a system that lets you have fun while analysing your cashflow! (okay, I digress)

Lens 21 – Flow

What keeps the player engrossed in Subnautica?

The answer – it allows the player to enter a flow state, which can be described using the 8 major components of flow:

  1. A challenging activity requiring skill
  2. Concentration on the task at hand
  3. A sense of control
  4. A merging of action and awareness
  5. A loss of self-consciousness
  6. An altered sense of time
  7. Direct, immediate feedback
  8. Clear goals

For the aliens among us, this is what most people experience when they describe a game as ‘fun’.

How Subnautica aces this

According to Nicole Lazzaro’s 4 Keys to Fun (courtesy of NM4260 Game Design), Subnautica employs hard fun and easy fun to bring the player into a flow state.

Hard fun is derived when the player pursues a challenging goal and achieves it through their mastery of the game mechanics. They then go on to pursue even tougher goals. Eg. you beat level 10 of Tetris without using the ‘store’ mechanic.

Easy fun emerges when a player explores and discovers something that wows them, and is driven by curiosity to explore more. Eg. you discover a new cat after changing up your furniture in Neko Atsume

// I am still in the process of editing this blog post, and will finish it soon. the rest of the post is in a draft form.

// describe how the game gives the player these 2 types of fun

  • the player ‘chooses’ the difficulty by venturing into unexplored territory, thus matching the challenge to the player’s skill level
  • as other guy mentioned, i agree that some players are unwilling to take risks, making the game boring

Lens 7 – Elemental Tetrad





83 fantasy secret wishes, helps player escape boring life


amazing aesthetics


very nice story

is it related to 19 the player: what do they like, don’t like, expect to see in game, what would they wanna see in the game? what do they like or dislike about the game [definitely the feedback button and the support that the team provides, with the latest 2.0 update released just dec 14 2022, 6 years after game release date!! madness.]

  • what did the fav game guy say about being player centric? or the worth it guy (optimisation)
  • 73 story machine interest curves?
    • agree about story moving slow. way to identify what the user wants.


really good graphics, 3d, so many mobs, such big map, yet had good framerate. also, feedback button, game being improved as it was being played.

vr supported. that brings me to the main bit of this analysis – virtual interface control

Lens 59 – Control (or 61 virt interfaces)

the vr UI is really bad as compared to other vr games available in 2023. it really adds vr support and nothing more in terms of immersion or juciness.

2d hud, head cursor, pda opening too close to the face, awkward movement mappings out of the box, arms are not tracked, leading to loss of immersion (or the opportunity cost of not helping with immersion over the PC version, controls not that meaningfully mapped) quick access slots inaccessible, quitting the game inaccessible, had to press all buttons to finally give up and google and find out that i had to press the escape button on keyboard.

vr interface. 61 virtual interfaces? 63 feedback for telling player. affordances. ui. avatar got wetsuit

// compare with other games like those specifically made for vr

  • freediver: horizon zero
  • pales in comparison to bonelab
  • vrchat at least hands follow your controllers

that said, it brings me to my favourite part of the vr adaptation of this game

Lens 29 – Secrets

a big part of the game is the wildlife, art of making convincing alien animal behaviour that triggers all of your innate phobias of what is dangerous.

plot, is forward force

radio signals


sound design – the animal calls, breathing sounds on reaching the surface, bubble sounds were excellent.

also links to lens 1 – emotion.

most vr games do not have such a thoughtful story, this many creatures, and such a beautiful world and comprehensive sound design that this really blows the current competition out of the water in terms of content and hours of engaging gameplay.


like most things, the vr adaptation of subnautica wins in some areas and loses in others.

i dont think the devs will be improving the vr version, given its old release date. but this analysis has been very useful for my group’s underwater vr game, and i hope you have gotten something out of reading it.

Persona 5 Royal

Persona 5 Royal is a game developed by P-Studio and published by Atlus. This post will analyse it through Schell’s Elemental Tetrad and a few Game Design Lenses.

Lens of Essential Experience

Persona 5 Royal is a single-player Role-Playing Game which integrates aspects of both a 3d dungeon crawler with turned-based combat and a social simulator/visual novel, with players alternating between the two as the game and story progresses.

Gameplay is divided into in-game days as the story progresses with a calendar system over one school year, and players make decisions on how to spend their time each day, be it to progress their social relations or dungeon exploration.

Elemental Tetrad


Players take the role of a Japanese high school student, who along with other peers he meets along the game’s campaign, has been wronged by individuals in positions of power.

With the discovery of a psychic world known as the Metaverse, the group of teens team up and support one another a double-life – one of ordinary students looking to make it through the academic year, and the other as a band of rebel vigilantes known seeking to reform society by performing heists within the minds of corrupt individuals.


Pause menu: “Don’t Look at ME LIKe THaT”

Persona 5 Royal‘s characters and world are presented with an anime-inspired art style, not uncommon in the RPG genre. Where it stands out, however, is in its UI presentation. The striking colour combination of red, black, and white, the irregularly-sized text, as well as unconventional, non-orthogonal angles and shapes that make up every aspect of the user interface, including the dialogue boxes, combat and pause menus, all evoke a punk-like aesthetic, complementing and accentuating the story themes of teen rebellion.


Just as the main characters live 2 different lives in the story, the game’s mechanics are divided into 2 distinct, yet interconnected portions.

Persona 5 Royal serves as wish-fulfilment for the many who wish they could spend time with a therapist for free and receive immediate growth in their mental fortitude

In one half, players manage their avatar’s daily student life and social relations with others by spending time with them and choosing between dialogue options in their conversations, with some rewarding the player with more progress points, similar to visual novels.

Pictured: the squad fights a necklace

In the other half, players explore 3d dungeon environments and battle enemies in turn-based combat, in which players attack with weapons such as knives and guns, as well as the titular Personas, beings that characters summon to perform magical attacks.

The two halves are linked in the fact that progress in one aspect brings benefits for the other. For instance, building a relationship with a character in the social sim allows for greater combat strength in the dungeon crawler, and defeating certain enemies in the dungeon crawler could unlock progression in the social sim.


Due to the game’s stylised anime art style, it is less resource intensive than more photorealistic-looking games, and is able to run smoothly on a variety of systems, including Nintendo Switch.

Lens of Problem Solving

While game progression occurs regardless of most of the player’s choices in the social sim aspect of the game, there is a clear win-lose condition when it comes to the turn-based combat element of the game, and it is hence one of the key problems placed before players to solve.

During combat, players make decisions on attacking, using healing or assistive items, as well as which attack or item to use. Enemies have unique affinities to different attack types. For instance, if an enemy is vulnerable to fire-based attacks, it would take more damage from them and be left disabled, giving the player another turn to attack.

This adorable snowman-like creature is weak to fire and immune to ice attacks

Beyond this basic level of weaknesses and strengths, status effects such as buffs and ailments, as well as interactions involving these effects, add an additional layer of complexity and choice to the player.

The key problem players have to solve, then, would be figuring out which types combination of attacks would be most effective against different enemies.

While it may seem obvious to a non-player that any creature would be weak to gunshots and nuclear blasts, there’s actually no guarantee or way to know beforehand in this game.

In my experience, however, the game offers no hints as to discerning the affinities and weaknesses of when encountering new enemy types, and the problem-solving would always involve nothing more than trial-and-error as I blindly threw out attacks of different types, essentially brute forcing until I discovered what attack type an enemy is weak to. This aspect of the problem-solving would hence feel rather stale after I progressed through a few hours of the game.

Lens of Meaningful Choices

Sure, you could spend time with the people you love and help them with their problems, but you could also just ignore them and spend the day fishing. It’s a real dilemma.

While the main plot of the game is linear and fixed, players have a level of decision-making that changes certain aspects of the game, namely choosing what to do with the time spent during Social Sim portion.

During any particular day, a player may choose between:

  • Activities that increase stats for social sim half (charm, guts, knowledge, kindness, proficiency), that unlocks more social interactions
  • Activities that increase perks in the dungeon crawling/combat half (darts throwing, hp increase)
  • Activities to build relationships with other characters, which may also provide the aforementioned benefits at times
  • Entering the dungeon-crawling aspect of the game to complete side quests, gain levels or progress the main story

As the entire game takes place during and ends after a fixed number of in-game days, each decision made regarding time spent comes as an opportunity cost of other potential activities done.

The end result of this opportunity cost and the potential rewards behind each choice is that each of the numerous decisions made over the course of the game’s calendar year feel meaningful and important.

Lens of Character Transformation

As a story-driven title, P5R’s main cast of characters, as well as its secondary cast that the player interacts with each undergo a level of character transformation, rewarding the player with a sense of satisfaction.

This occurs over the course of the main plot, which all players will experience, but also during optional side content known as Confidants as players choose to spend time with various characters during the social simulator part of the game.

Confidants are individual stories the players experience in segments over the course of the game’s social system, in which players interact with and watch characters overcome a personal challenge and grow. Stories can be rather emotionally compelling as the characters involved develop.

That said, sometimes the character transformation that players work for are not as clearly communicated as they could be. For the main playable cast, much of the transformation to their characters occur during the single story arc in which they are introduced, and mostly involve them standing up for themselves as victims abuse by those in power over them. However, since the transformation that occurs during their respective Confidants are optional and parallel to the main plot, developments from them are often not communicated or reflected during story moments.


Overall, in spite of a few shortcomings in maximising its potential under a few lenses, Persona 5 Royal provided me with a unique, enjoyable experience through its characteristic flavour of aesthetics, story, and gameplay integration, leaving it with a memorable identity among many other titles of its genre.

Puzzle and Dragons

Puzzle and Dragon’s trailer from 9 Nov 2012, when it was only available on the app store.

Puzzle and Dragons is a free-to-play match-three gacha puzzle MMO that has RPG and strategy elements. It is developed by Gung-Ho Online Entertainment, a Japanese video-game developer and publisher. The game is currently celebrating its 10th Anniversary and has consistently been one of Japan’s top grossing mobile games. The series has spawned its fair share of spinoffs, like Puzzle and Dragons BATTLE, an augmented reality competitive game with an e-sports scene exclusively for Japan and Puzzle and Dragons X, an 89 episode long anime.

A screenshot of gameplay of Puzzle and Dragons, where characters from the game’s numerous collaborations like Hello Kitty, Demon Slayer, Monster Hunter, Fate and Power Rangers are working together to defeat fried shrimp from Takaoka City, Japan.

Puzzle Mechanics

At its core, Puzzle and Dragons is a turn-based tile-matching puzzle game, where the number of matches made contribute to the strength of the attacks. Players are given minimally 6 seconds to continuously move an orb across the board, while attempting to make as many matches of 3 as possible. Orbs come in 5 different types and follow a familiar rock-paper-scissors relationship, with monsters taking more damage to elements they are weak against and taking less damage from elements they are strong against. As with games typical to this genre, light and dark are solely weak to the other type.

Those wanting to give the puzzle mechanic a go can visit the website below. Note that the simulation can be run on mobile devices for a more authentic experience.


Teambuilding Mechanics

The Strategic part of the game comes naturally in the form of teambuilding when talking new dungeons. As this is a gacha game with a long history and almost 10,000 units to collect, players will each be equipped with a unique set of monsters each with its own strength and weaknesses, making teambuilding a unique experience for every player.

Each unit comes with an active skill, a leader skill and awoken skills. Active skills require afew turns to charge up and gives buffs, debuffs or changes the board. Leader skills boost the health and damage of the team if certain conditions are met, for example a leader skill could reduce incoming damage by 75% of 3 dark matches are made in a turn. Awoken skills improve the damage of the unit if certain conditions are met. An example of this would be the “L” awakening, that multiplies the unit’s damage output when orbs of the unit’s element are matched in an L shape.

Putting both the Puzzle and Teambuilding mechanics together, we get a highly customizable gameplay experience, where players who are more confident in their puzzling abilities can opt for leader skills that are harder to activate, whereas players less confident of their skill can opt for leaders that boost their defensive stats more, or load their team with various active skills to blast away any potential walls they may face.

Dungeon Mechanics

Enemies in the dungeon each have an attribute and health, which are depleted as the player attacks. They also have a small turn cooldown timer to specify how many turns before the enemy next moves. More challenging dungeons see enemies using more special attacks, like voiding/absorbing damage above a certain threshold or imposing hazards like restricting the board size or preventing the player from moving orbs in an area.


Puzzle and Dragons was made in Unity back in 2012, originally released for iOS devices before being ported to android 7 months later. Since then, the game has been developed for Kindle Fire and more recently for Nintendo Switch.


The story of Puzzle and Dragons consists of numerous side stories without a clear main narrative line. Originally, these side stories were revealed in a discrete way, by revealing bits of background information in the form of Active / Leader skills and short 1-line dialogue when fighting monsters. More recently, the developers have added a story mode to more clearly relate the side stories of numerous original characters and occasionally collaboration events will have a time-limited story mode.

The lack of a story is not a hindrance especially when considering the numerous collaborations that Puzzle and Dragons has had over its long history. Instead of trying to be one coherent story, the game’s side story structure lends itself well into its collaborations that span across 100 different titles including McDonald’s, Seven-Eleven and SoftBank Mobile’s robot Pepper.


Puzzle and Dragons has not updated its sprites since its initial launch a decade ago. A majority of its character portraits are very vibrant, cartoony and all follow a similar aspect ratio. Characters from collaboration events also follow this scheme while still retaining their original art styles. In a class JRPG style, art in dungeons is limited to the enemies and backgrounds. These usually consist of a simple 2D splash with the occasional animated background and small visual effects.

The menus and UI of the game similar to an arcade style and the font used is big and rounded while still being extremely readable on smaller devices.

The Elemental Tetrad

These 4 elements as mentioned above work with each other to create a mid-core game that is easily accessible and deceptively simple. Being a game played in portrait mode, a majority of gameplay can be done with 1 hand, making it easy to play during commute. Players can also save their premade teams into different slots, allowing one to hop into a game session instantly. Having the aesthetics and story simple also lowers the barrier to entry and the great depth of mechanics and skill expression keeps players hooked for a long time.

The Lens of Reward

While there are numerous types of rewards, they can mostly be boiled down into 2 main categories.

The various ways to improve a unit

Unit Improvement

In classic gacha style, characters that players obtain have a multitude of ways to be upgraded, which are paramount to the player’s progression. Units have to be leveled to gain stats, awoken skills need material to activate, units need more material to evolve amongst many others. The game routinely hands out these rewards, with dungeons dedicated just to farming them. These upgrade materials all come in the form of special units whose descriptions relay to the player their purpose.

To the new player, all options to improve their unit of choice are displayed when they choose to upgrade their unit. The game also filters out the types of material they will use when upgrading this unit, making it clear to the user despite the huge amount of upgrade types available.

To the more experienced player, meaningful upgrades to their units start becoming few and far between, being mainly locked behind the hardest content. While these upgrades are extremely potent, it is possible for the player to be unable to clear the content without getting better units.

The generosity of upgrades to a meaningful level means that newer players can power through content to catch up with more experienced players and experienced players are able to develop more units to test out their team compositions. As there are so many different units in the game, this frequency of rewards is nice so that players spend more time fighting harder content instead of farming easier dungeons for their rewards.

A free-to-play user with over $6.7k USD of premium currency handed out to players over the years.

Premium Currency

The main revenue source of the game is through magic stones which are used to pull for new units in the main, seasonal and collaboration shops. Unlike most gacha games, Puzzle and Dragons does not feature a pity mechanic, meaning players can spend hundreds of dollars trying to chase for 1 unit yet never get it.

Instead, the game is extremely generous in handing out magic stones. In the most recent Player’s appreciation event, the developers gave away $300 USD of magic stones to every player, letting the average player roll for units to their heart’s content.

As a gacha game, more premium currency is always a good thing. More magic stones means more units, which means more teambuilding and more fun. However, too many units can be an issue for newer players — while its a good problem to have, without experience to judge the strength of a unit, new players may find it overwhelming.

Qualifier round for Puzzle and Dragon’s Esports Cup 2023

Lens of Skill

Puzzle and Dragons is deceptively a skill based game. To the beginner, the biggest hurdle is getting used to the orb moving mechanic, a skill that can be as simple as playing the game Candy-Crush style. The game has a long tutorial that can be skipped as well as multiple training floors for players to develop these mechanics, allowing even the newest of players to get accustomed with the unique gameplay.

As the number of units a player has grows, teambuilding starts becoming a quintessential part of the game. While some players can use their greater skill to crack through harder content, one can also as easily come up with a team specifically geared to combat the mechanics in a dungeon, reducing the skill needed to spin the puzzle.

When approaching hard content, the skill required ramps up significantly. Harder dungeons means more dungeon mechanics and harder enemies means one needs more damage, which normally comes from having leader skills that are increasingly difficult to build a team for. From here on, tougher content can be made easier by having rare units that require magic stones to acquire, or through play testing your team, getting better mechanically and refining it to suit the dungeon’s needs. This is where some players may decide to start spending money, to keep up to date with the newest and strongest units to solve their weaknesses. Players still stuck after this process would face a huge wall of difficulty, being unable to clear harder content to get stronger.

Lens of Interest Curve

The feeling of finally getting your favorite unit, clearing an exceptionally hard dungeon for the first time, or getting an exceptionally high combo count all add to memorable moments that piques the Interest curve. This is a skill based game with a myriad of random elements so naturally, things may work against or for the player.

A game with as long a history as Puzzle and Dragons would have a challenge keeping the interest of its players. However Puzzle and Dragons keeps players wanting to come back by their numerous collaborations with popular and outlandish titles alike. The developers also routinely buff older units to make it compatible with newer and harder dungeons, giving a boost for players to get past difficult walls.

To keep players sustained with content, the game pushes out harder and harder content every few months, each having more unique mechanics and twists to the standard gameplay loop. To combat this and promote new content, they equip their collaboration units with more and more buffs, resulting in a huge power creep issue over the years.

To the normal player, chasing these updates would be extremely meaningful to get the most powerful team possible. However having experienced the game from when doing a million damage was incredibly powerful, to now casually reaching the integer limit and still not be able to kill a monster, this cycle can get repetitive. Instead of a challenge, waiting a few months for power creep before reattempting a hard dungeon sometimes becomes a more enjoyable experience.

The Lens of Story Machine

One’s memories and experiences of the game varies wildly depending on the date they started playing the game. With Puzzle and Dragon’s constant updates and seasonal collaborations that may not come back, every player has access to a unique set of monsters with a unique set of solutions for every dungeon. New players with more recently released units may have the raw power to complete harder dungeons, but experienced players can still tackle them by cherry picking the perfect team from their larger pool of units, providing everyone with a unique story.


Puzzle and Dragons is a great game to have while commuting. The constant puzzle solving element gives a constant challenge, and the frequent rewards the developer pushes out allow you to constantly roll for new units even without playing the game frequently. If you are looking for a Free to play friendly gacha, or are inspired by similar games in the match 3 genre like Puzzle Quest and 10000000, this could be the game for you.

TFT-Teamfight tactics

TFT is an eight person free-for-all League of Legends strategy game where players combine LoL champions and items in different formations to defeat the seven other players in a match. As the leading game in the auto-battler genre, players tactically place an army of characters on a grid-shaped game board for a last-player-standing automated battle. Since launching in 2019, TFT has emerged as the top contender in the genre, with over 100M players globally since its launch, providing a fun and deep chess-like gameplay experience for all types of players.


In TFT, all the champions have their unique skins from LoL, and these different series of skins divide all the champions into different professions and races. Also, the skill CG of champions also inheritates from LoL, which are well designed and give players visual enjoyment. Besides the aesthetic design around champions, there are also other things in TFT like the different series of small variants, arena skins and ‘boom’ effects. Players can use any variant or arena skin they like and see all these thing during every game. As TFT allows 8 players to play together, they can go to other’s arena to see or show their variant. So a beautiful variant and arena skin even boom effects can highly improve the game experience of those players who like this(like me XD).

An example of a series of champions(Star Guardian)

Star Guardian:

  • Lux: Tier 1 Spellslinger
  • Rell: Tier 2 Defender
  • Yuumi: Tier 2 Mascot, Heart
  • Kai’Sa: Tier 3 Recon
  • Nilah: Tier 3 Duelist
  • Ekko: Tier 4 Prankster, Aegis
  • Taliyah: Tier 4 Spellslinger
  • Syndra: Tier 5 Heart

The champions in this binding is from the skin series of star Guardian. Designers keep different skills and attributes of champions to divide them into different tiers like mentioned above. Besides tiers, champions also have star levels. Three same star level of one champion can make into a high level version if this champion and also will slightly change the visual, attributes and skills of this champion.


The champions in TFT will change from set to set, so the background story will also change from set to set. The whole storyline is based on the LoL world, like the profession of champions and the story of different series of skins. Then the designer will add some featured champions to fulfill the world view. For example, in the current season the story happened on Spatulopolis, the city that never sleeps—because you’d have trouble sleeping too with all these monster attacks! So this season called ‘Monster Attack!’. And the designer add hero augments in this season to make every champion become a monster!

Another example of story setting is the last season which is called ‘Dragonland’. As the name called dragonland, so there are a series of dragon champions in this season and several main races in this season are different kinds of dragons which have different binding effect.

Lens 1 Problem Solving

During playing, Players can enjoy the process of using their strategy to fight with other seven players and makes their army stronger than them. Their strategy should cover the allocate of money, equipment, champions and so on. First, They need to plan the usage of money to upgrade their shop to get high tier champions or refresh the shop to get or improve the champions they want. Second, Every game Players will get different Dragen augments or hero augment. Third, the monsters at the end of each round will bring different equipment and champions or some other props. Players need to plan what their line-up will be in this game according to all the factors before. Also, according to different versions, the strength of champions will change from version to version so choose a strong line-up is also important.

Lens 2 Surprise & Fun

Since the random equipment and props get from monsters at the end of each round, Players can wait for some surprise from monsters like ‘tome of traits’ or random high Tier champions. Also, Player will have three rounds to choose three augments in every game. There are some super interesting augments and if players can meet the augments they want it will be super fun. So waiting for the augments of every game is also attracted to players. Besides, there is a shared draft every round, random champions with random equipment will appear. All the players will stay together and choose the desired champions in reverse order of their current ranking. During this shared draft, sometimes players can surprisingly meet the champions they hardly can get from shop so they can make their line-up formation earlier. Finally, since the shop will refresh every small round so sometimes there will be high tier champions in the shop which is nearly impossible to appear in the low level shop.

An example of shared craft
Example of hero augment

Lens 3 Gambler’s mentality

As you know, Gambler always think that next time he will get the rewards he wants, so he will try and try and try. This mentality can easily find in many places in TFT like augments or refresh shops. Because there is a lot of luck involved, players will think that it is not due to strength and that they can definitely win if they are luckier next time. As a result, players will try and try again to wait for that lucky time like a great augment or champions of the line-up they want. That’s why TFT can attract players to keep playing it. Another appearance of Gambler’s mentality happens when players refresh their shop to find the champions they want. Since you will never know what will be in your shop next time, so you will keep thinking that it will be here next time! However, players cannot use all their money to refresh the shop because they need to upgrade to put more champions on the arena and improve the possibility of refreshing high tier champions.

Lens 4 Competition & Cooperation

In TFT rank, you need to fight with other 7 players and get the top four rank to win the game. You need to compete with them to upgrade and get the limited number of champions in the shop. Since the number of one champion in shop is limited, and people always pretend to play the strong line-ups, then some hot champions are always needed by 3 or even more players in one game. When this happen, It’s important for players to find the timing to upgrade and refresh shops. If earlier and unlucky, players will lose neither money nor quality. If later, even though players may have more money, but the champions in the shop maybe all taken by other players so the money is useless. So the competition among players happen not only on the ranking but also on the searching of champions.

Besides classical TFT rank, TFT also have double up mode. Players can choose to compete with their friends in classic rank or cooperate with their friends in double up mode. You know, playing with friends is much fun and can have different experience from playing alone. In double up mode, players will divide into two per group and the two players in one group can transfer champions and equipment to each other. This will change the strategy in classic mode and need new ideas about how to win the game.

An example of shared draft in double up mode


Gameplay Demo

Game Website: https://controlgame.com/

Personal Gameplay Footage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wa3hCg2kRNg

Control is a third-person action-adventure shooter game. Developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by 505 Games, it received near universal acclaim for its storyline, action, art design among other elements, with many video game media selecting it as one of if not the best game of 2019.


The game follows the protagonist, Jesse Faden, who turns up at the secretive Federal Bureau of Control (FBC) to look for her brother, Dylan, who has been missing since a paranormal event (referred to as an Altered World Event or AWE) at her hometown almost 2 decades prior. Unbeknownst to her and the outside world, the FBC (which responds to and covers up AWEs) has just been infiltrated by an interdimensional force that corrupts reality and is on the brink of proliferating beyond the FBC. Inside, Jesse finds the current Director of the FBC dead, and upon wielding the Director’s shapeshifting gun, the Service Weapon, becomes the new Director. She then has to fight her way to not only cleanse corrupted sectors of the FBC, but also reveal clues about Dylan’s fate and whereabouts within, gaining supernatural powers such as levitation and telekinesis along the way.

The initial part of the game is admittedly not very intriguing, with Jesse showing up at a seemingly regular office building strangely devoid of life. Despite the deliberately not well explained beginning, as the story progresses, the player is able to understand more and more of the rich lore behind the game, explaining some of the events that underlie the context of the game and various paranormal phenomena which appear common in the FBC. There are also collectible documents, videos and audio recordings scattered throughout the various sectors, some of which do not contribute to the main storyline but as a whole add depth to an otherwise apparently serious FBC.


Control is designed to encourage exploration of the various sectors, and as such has very well-designed areas. From the exquisite Research Sector to the industrial NSC Power Plant and the otherworldly Quarry Threshold, each level is full of detail and really brings out the theme of the location. Even small items like lamps and books have not been spared the developers’ attention, adding to the overall immersion of the location. Special effects are used liberally but tastefully, such as explosions and flying debris. Some side bosses like Former and Mold-1 are well-modelled; as they are interdimensional beings, their unusual appearances complement the weirdness of the game and do not feel out of place. Lighting has also been used to great effect, as will be discussed in the lens of atmosphere below.


Most of the gameplay is centred around defeating enemies to reach objectives. This is accomplished either via the Service Weapon, which can take on the function of various firearms like a shotgun or rocket launcher, or via the various supernatural abilities that are acquired as the game progresses. This mix of regular shooter and having supernatural abilities ties in nicely with the kinds of enemies faced; some enemies have extra shielding against the Service Weapon’s attack but which is vulnerable to objects flung at them with telekinesis, so it would be more effective to hurl a few things at it before shooting. One unique mechanic that I’ve not seen in other shooters is that the player can possess enemies to temporarily turn them into allies to fight other enemies. There is also an element of puzzle solving, such as matching patterns, using telekinesis to attach energy sources to plugs or levitating to otherwise inaccessible areas to do actions. These offer a brief reprieve from the fast action pace of shooting up enemies.


Control is built using Remedy’s proprietary Northlight Engine which debuted on their previous game, Quantum Break. It is also one of the first games that have support for real-time hardware raytracing, which allows for more realistic lighting effects. Remedy also implemented Nvidia’s PhysX engine, for physics emulation to make telekinesis more seamless within the game, and DLSS, a RTX specific upscaling feature. I was unable to make use of most of these as I run an older generation AMD card, and I would have appreciated upscaling as the game is very intensive (deservedly so, the visuals are quite something).

Lens of Atmosphere

The element of mystery surrounding the FBC is central to the game, and the general lack of music and lighting help to enhance that effect. The background noise is mostly silence, which gives the FBC a very serious and secretive tone, and when there is sound it sounds like it was made by otherworldly beings, reminding players of the weird and unnatural phenomena that is commonplace in the game. Many areas of the game, especially previously unexplored ones, are dimly lit, as if to appear ominous and uninviting. Once enemies spawn though, the red lighting that accompanies greatly contrasts the dark areas and draws attention to danger in the area. The background noise also gives way to fast rhythmic music, adding to the tension that comes with conflict. These elements continually reinforce the atmosphere of uncertainty and trepidation.

Lens of Curiosity

One of the main storyline elements is searching for Dylan. Little is revealed at first, including his and Jesse’s backgrounds and her motivation to find him. However, as the story progresses, breadcrumbs are dropped that partially explain the history of the characters, and that draws the player to play more to know more to get the full picture. This piquing of curiosity is also applied to the FBC; as many areas are freely explorable, players can roam around places at their own pace. This is encouraged by a reward system for finding hidden locations, for example areas behind destructible walls or places that were visited before obtaining levitation and hence out of reach initially. As mentioned previously, many internal documents and media scattered around as collectibles build a rich story of the Bureau’s history and organisational structure. Getting the complete picture at the end of it was personally quite fulfilling and mind blowing.

Lens of Novelty

Many weird things happen in the FBC, but this is perceived by the staff as just a regular day at work. Being the Director means that the player needs to get used to it too. The collectibles help explain some of the phenomena; for example, canonically the FBC building internally morphs fairly frequently to the point where there is a standard operating procedure when it occurs, but this is of course not what happens in real life. Special items that can cause or are a result of AWEs or can grant supernatural abilities to people are also a dime a dozen, though they usually take the form of mundane objects like a rubber duck or a refrigerator. Again, these are not what one might expect from everyday objects and hence reading about their backstories in the collectibles are interesting and refreshing. This also made me come back for more and try and find all the collectibles.

Lens of Obstacle

The player mainly faces corrupted FBC agents. These can be simply possessed agents who retain the use of regular firearms or corrupted to the point that they gain supernatural powers like having the ability to become invisible or levitation. As such, there is a wide variety of enemies that require different tactics to take out. When exploring new places, there are usually a few hordes of enemies, and often before a major goal, there is a boss fight involving a few different types of these enemies that the player has to defeat before being able to advance further.

NieR: Automata

NieR: Automata – “Death is Your Beginning” Launch Trailer | PS4

In the action role-playing game (ARPG) Automata, users assume control of battle androids from YoRHa units in an expansive open world. In addition to utilizing an unique item to go normally on foot, the player may also call a wild animal to ride and, in rare circumstances, control a flying mech to engage in combat.



The user engages in real-time hack and slash action combat with foes in a variety of in-game locations. The player has access to both light attacks, which are quick but ineffective, and heavy assaults, which are slower but more effective. In battle, the player is permitted to use two melee weapons. The player may switch between both weapons and attacks while attacking to generate combo attacks. The game’s fundamental and sophisticated combat systems, including interactions, mobility, and battle, are featured in NieR: Automata’s combat. Gliding, utilizing several weapon kinds without switching weapons, running, and the elimination of spells from the previous game are among the new features.


There are different sub-chapters in each chapter, some of which are only disclosed after several plays. Through the Chapter Select menu, they may also be replayed. The 14th Machine War is told from the perspectives of three major characters: 2B, 9S, and A2. They are all fighting as the last of human civilisation against extraterrestrial invaders. The conflict is less clear-cut, though, as the androids start to doubt their own motivations and the society they live in as a result of being placed in challenging circumstances and moral ambiguities.


The environment of Automata has a cool blueish gray aesthetic with strong shadow contrast, and its color palette is occasionally monochromatic with a lot of black and white use. Replicant features a lot of gray and is mostly a bland grey blue with little color contrast. Automata’s color scheme is monochromatic overall yet very saturated and contrasted. And replicant is low contrast and less saturated. While replicant has a drab grayish blue, automata has a cool blueish grey. Rusty browns, murky concrete, and dusty sky serve as the world’s primary color palette in Nier Automata’s visual direction, which has a subdued, gloomy appearance.


The crew evaluated both positive and negative reviews of Nier and came to the conclusion that the gameplay, visuals, and character designs needed to be improved. They enhanced these areas while retaining elements that were well-liked, such the game’s soundtrack and the story’s intricacy.

The Lens of Skill

It starts off with a subpar tutorial that leaves out certain movements that would have been helpful to know early on. I didn’t realize until about halfway through that you could use the right trigger to dodge just before an attacker approaches you, thereby enabling you to teleport away and make a counterattack. After you manage to escape the game’s opening wave of adversaries, though, you start to grasp how fighting and mobility operate and soon you’ll be putting together chains of spectacular maneuvers.

The Lens of Progress and Customization

Character customisation is accomplished through Chips, which are objects that players place within their characters and which change parts of their features. For example, chips can change the HUD to reveal opponent health and damage and provide players’ characters status bonuses. The maximum amount of Chips that may be placed at once is determined by the character’s available slots. Chips are available for purchase in stores or can be obtained from beaten opponents. Characters acquire experience levels as they go, boosting their health, defense, and attack strength.

Lens of Character Transformation

There are several key moments in the game that are memorable and have impacts on experience of the players. Gradual warming 2B Since the very beginning of the game, 2B and 9S have worked together as a team in Up To 9S. But first, 9S addresses 2B with a far more formal and uncomfortable title of “ma’am.” Additionally, 2B is distant from him and doesn’t put any effort into interacting with him outside of their objective. But as they spend more time together, she begins to genuinely care about him and becomes furious that Adam took and injured 9S. She’s also obviously sad whenever she has to “murder” 9S once more, which is fascinating given that her ultimate goal from the beginning was to get rid of him.

Lens of Challenge

In NieR: Automata, bosses are unique, enormous enemies with exceptional powers that are only met seldom. They often advance the primary plot, feature greater health bars, and attack phases. When confronting a boss, you can see their level, name, and HP bar. Machine Unit bosses are organized according to their machine type just as frequently encountered enemies in the game. Some of these bosses could have previously been faced as common opponents, however specific Routes or Chapters will have a notable boss encounter.

The game also fosters a sense of curiosity. The game effortlessly connects eerily stunning sights and locales without area loading in its beautifully desolate open-world setting. In addition to the main plot, the settings feature a multitude of side-events and are drawn at 60 frames per second.


The adventure Automata is wild, gorgeous, and full of wild concepts and fantastic gameplay. Despite having a lackluster plot and uninteresting characters, the game’s frantic action, gorgeous graphics, and catchy soundtrack make it too much fun to pass up.

Pico Park

Work together and clear levels!


Pico Park is a co-op, multiplayer 2D platform puzzle game developed by TECOPARK. The initial release of Pico Park for was in 2016 via the game retailer Steam, featuring local multiplayer game play. It was later released on June 8, 2019 for Nintendo Switch. In 2021, the game was updated to add online multiplayer features to allow game play through an internet connection.

The Elemental Tetrad


Being a 2D platform puzzle game, Pico Park emphasizes the usage of player movement to achieve the goal of clearing puzzles. There are only simple movements allowed, such as jumping, and WASD keyboard type movement. The core mechanic here is about movement, in coordination with the other players on your team to achieve the objective of acquiring a key and progressing to the end by opening a door.

2 players carrying the key to the door

Most of the gameplay is pretty simple, but it requires players to work together by stacking each other up or by moving in unison.

The need for coordination is amplified by the number of ways in which a player could die, which will affect the gameplay and cause the level to restart.


Honestly there is zero story involved with Pico Park. It is just a cute animation game for players to play together. As a player, you probably would not miss the storyline either, since it was not an open world concept to begin with.


It has pixel based animation art, which contributes to a sense of minimalism and nostalgia for the players. It also makes use of the fact that it is a 2D game, to evoke the memories of old games on consoles and Nintendo DS.

This reminds players of their childhood and makes it easy for everyone to jump on.


The technology used here is online multiplayer through either Steam, or the local multiplayer mode with Nintendo Switch. The game was simple so it did not require much control or complex tech to support it. This contributed to the charm of the game as well.


#6 problem solving

Being fundamentally a puzzle solving game, Pico Park attracted the type of players that usually would enjoy solving a hard problem or did not mind failing levels numerous times over. The exasperation of being unable to clear a level only accentuates the fun or the joy that the player feels when he/she finally clears a level.

Hence, it was important to introduce mechanics that were simple, so that the player can focus on the core gameplay, yet still


This was a game suited to all types of players. The simple game mechanics is meant to be easy to teach and convince other players to join. Without this kind of simple game mechanics, Pico Park could easily scare novice players away. By using only the basic player movements, players would not avoid the game because of a lack of skill.

#37 cooperation

As previously noted, this game was meant to be played with friends so that you can strengthen your bonds. It could also be played with strangers, as the time or sensitive gameplay controls naturally causes people to lower their inhibition and pleasantries.

The tasks must be completed with the help of every player in the game, which contributes to the need for communication.

#52 puzzle

The puzzles that were created layered on the need for communication. For example, at certain levels, strings were added, connecting the players and allowed them to pull their fellow players by moving along. This helped them to drop players down to collect items, such as coins and keys. By doing so, they would be able to prevent their fellow players from dying and resetting the levels.


Pico Park is an extremely interesting and popular game, which fascinates me because it was clearly developed on a shoestring budget. It showed me that there isn’t a need to overspend, but there is a need to really focus on how the game mechanics work and how they come together to create a cohesive playing experience.

Here’s some extra gameplay demo: