Before we begin, would you like to take a trip back in time?
The month is February and the year is 1991. losing my religion has soared the charts, Hannibal Lecter has earned a reputation as a dinner guest to die for, and green-haired Goover’s eccentric executives called Lemmings have entered gamers’ minds.
The 1991 release of Lemmings introduced the concept of leading a horde of mindless little creatures through various obstacles to the gaming public. It’s simple, addictive, and has spawned a franchise that will serve as a foundation for casual puzzles for years to come.
Fast forward 30 years and the general concept is still compelling, as evidenced by the many iterations across many platforms. Kartoffl is the latest attempt to bring this proven Lemmings formula to VR, and the first of its kind to land on the main Quest store.
follow the leader
Kartoffl sees players shuffling from the edge of the map to nearby goals, tasked with navigating legions of anthropomorphic potatoes. To accomplish this, they must traverse a patchwork of water terrain, navigating sheer drops and crumbling platforms along the way. Semi-sensory spuds cascade endlessly until they reach an obstacle and disappear on impact, or reach the edge of a platform and drift silently until they disappear.
To avoid this merciless march of doom, players equip a variety of items to lead the feisty Potato Peeper safely across the world to his destination. This includes simple turns that deflect parboiled matrices and springs that climb over obstacles. Kartoffl introduces just the right number of options for avoiding floating hazards by choosing increasingly sophisticated machines.
Each level offers just enough pieces to complete your goal, but plenty of room for creativity along the way. To complete each level, the player must safely reach the finish line with the required number of spuds. In most cases this can be achieved by some fairly obvious route, but the choice is yours.
Bewildered by all levels of experience
Kartoffl gradually increases in difficulty as you play through the 60 puzzles offered at launch, but the game doesn’t really challenge the intricacies of other puzzle games. Instead, Kartoffl seems content to offer a calm, accessible puzzle game.
Where the game manages to ramp up the difficulty is the optional bonus point system. Each level contains his 3 stars to collect. Most of them require you to bypass some of the mashable minions along more dangerous paths. Successfully scavenging all three stars often requires a slightly more cerebral approach to procedures that can overwhelm the player. Still, Kartoffl seems to have a slightly younger audience in mind, so often making the star’s perfect complement was slightly less difficult than expected.
New equipment becomes available at a measured pace throughout the game, and new mechanics (and combinations thereof) keep the puzzles fresh as you progress. That said, it’s a little disappointing to reach the last few levels and find no new items coming. Therefore, the game feels superficial towards the end. A few more mechanics for combining and convolving could have made the climax of the game more satisfying.
more physical than expected
In addition to general puzzle elements, Kartoffl also incorporates unexpected and particularly engaging physics elements. Certain levels fall into the “set and forget” style of play. With this, the challenge is to devise an escape route using the available pieces and throw the roaming Tater into the fray. However, other levels require more agility and interaction to complete.
Usually in such cases the number of pieces available is far below the number needed to escape the level. The player must move quickly around the map to juggle a limited array of pieces from one location to another. On many levels, this is possible by a small margin, and only a well-planned and well-executed sequence of actions will save the army of vegetable brains from plummeting to ruin.
This precise physicality is achievable thanks to a well-crafted control system that allows you to move through the game world and move around yourself. Similar to the likes of Demeo and Little Cities, players can grab the world and rotate it to get a better vantage point, or use the grip buttons to move hand in hand. There are also stick-based movement options, including a handy ‘sprint’ feature, all of which are intuitive and enhance the overall gameplay.
The only thing Kartoffl’s control system lacks is the ability to extend the world. It’s a nice addition, allowing players to pan out to get an overview of the map and zoom in to focus on specific details or sections. It rarely breaks the game.
Consistent, but room for improvement
Visually, Kartoffl has a brightly colored yet simple look. The art direction is cute, the colors are vibrant, and the visual landscape is consistent and easy to understand.
Aesthetically, the game finds a harmonious harmony between gameplay and sound design. In a game world built by controlling a squadron of potatoes walking through a moving maze, it feels like a little more whimsy could have been employed in designing the simple floating landscape setting.
This satisfaction with basic functionality is evident in Kartoffl’s oversimplified UI. The menu system gets the job done, but does little to enhance the game’s character or give the overall presentation a sense of polish. , and select a level. That’s all. For example, as brilliantly demonstrated in Tentacular, some basic and playful interactivity with the landing environment went a long way in adding weight to the perceived production value.
Similarly, the sound design is satisfying enough, but unfortunately falls short of the excellence that Quest users have come to expect. It’s so distracting. Unlike Spacefolk City, for example, which was an absolute masterclass in ambient sound design for broadly passive games, Kartoffl’s music quickly becomes repetitive and quickly jarring.
Kartoffl Review – Final Verdict
Kartoffl is a thoroughly engaging puzzle game, combining tried-and-tested mechanics with some novel quirks to strike a balance between familiarity and fun. It’s not a genre-shaping revelation, but playing Kartoffl remains an undeniably entertaining experience that reveals itself slowly enough to make you subconsciously like it more.
For veterans of the genre, this review should probably be a warning that Kartoffl may not stretch your gray matter to its limits. It’s engaging, relaxing, and a very comfortable way to spend a few low-impact hours on a quest.Kartoffl focuses on accessible difficulty to make the experience engaging for players of all levels So it’s easy to recommend for casual players, nostalgic players, and younger players alike.
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