Mastery over time in games have always been a welcome means of stylish action and interesting mechanics, but few have actually put the power of time loops into the player's hands. Causality is the latest puzzler to explore that concept, wringing tricky and clever challenges from interaction with yor past selves.
Loju's debut project Transmission turned the history of communication into a surprisingly polished puzzler, and that smart design is in full force in Causality. Each isometric stage is a alien showcase of odd environments - crystal caves, hazy forests, desolate wastes - and a web of paths, constructed from various tiles. Stranded astronauts walk these paths automatically, and it's your job to guide them to like-colored exit tiles.
That alone can be a challenge. You only have a limited timeframe to complete each level, and can scrub back and forth time without penalty, letting you adjust the astronaut's paths easily. Befitting a game about time travel, timing is crucial in solving these movement puzzles; you must activate switches at precise moments to open or block paths, and time your movements to avoid the hungry tentacles waiting to grab fresh meals.
Hello old friend
And then Causality throws time loops into the mix. Special tiles will mold the passage of time, placing secondary versions of your astronauts onto the grid. Two characters suddenly become four, granting you the means to use switches and perform other actions.
This chronological mechanic can take a few levels to fully grasp; the first time you alter an astronaut's path and his other version appears on the map before he even reaches the time-bending tile is particularly fascinating. Learning how exactly the timing of loops works is an major element in solving Causality's later levels.
Causality lets you solve its puzzles at your pace, with move counters or scores to limit your attempts. Solutions can sometimes rely too heavily on trial and error, partially due to the ease at which you can rewind and edit paths and try again.
If you're hoping for pre-planning logic-driven challenges, you won't find that here, but Causality excels at its unique usage of time loops and vibrant presentation.