Beret

Beret (freeware, Win/Mac/Linux) is the best game I've played this year. It has gotten a shockingly small amount of press despite sporting some of the most consistently well-crafted level design I've seen. It may on the surface look like an early-90s 2-D platformer, but it is in fact a brilliant puzzle game in disguise. Its central mechanic is limited-range telekinesis, and while it steadily introduces new, novel elements throughout the game, your little avatar gains no new abilities. It also makes use of a save-/restore-state feature to distill what might otherwise feel like action sequences into their pure puzzley essence. And while the developer has implemented an unlockable level-editor, at the moment no user-crafted levels have been posted to the game's burgeoning forum. Please fix that.

Note: the game will take you over 20 hours to complete.

  1. Oh god so fiddly. I died like ten times in a row for what didn’t feel like my fault. It’s a good idea but it needs some work.

  2. Really? Apart from a meaningless enemy-type introduced late in the game, and maybe the final boss sequence, I found the whole thing to be incredibly tight. Are you using a trackpad, perhaps?

    Another controls tip. You don’t need to click directly on the thing you’re attempting to pick up. If the mouse is held down when the cursor intersects an object, you’ll end up picking that object up.

    Also, right-click to turn on your telekinesis range-guide is pretty critical. (It should probably be on by default). If you’re losing control of objects you’re levitating, they’re probably either exiting your range or you’re losing line-of-sight to the object.

    And if you’re talking about control of the character, be sure to make use of the run/walk toggle.

    And as a last resort, be sure to use 1 and 4 to save/load state before any particularly tricky sequence.

    I really felt like the developer thought of everything in terms of mitigating the finicky feel of similar games (like that disappointing Tesla game from earlier this year — also using telekinesis, but locked into a physics model that makes the whole thing a bit of a mess.)

    [lastly, I was playing this on PC, so I can’t vouch for how the game handles on Mac or Linux. Maybe it’s not running smoothly enough in the other OSs?]

  3. It’s a lot less fiddly now that I have the guide on and I’m moving faster, but I still don’t really like it. Still, it’s a great effort for a one guy indie game :D

  4. That’s cool. I find myself really wanting to evangelize for this underdog of a game. What impresses me the most about it is how it feels at first like an action platformer, but has been designed in such a way that it collapses into what amounts to pure puzzle. (It may take longer than you’ve played for that to become abundantly clear?) And those puzzles are, eventually, at least, totally brilliant.

    Taken as an action game, I can see how it might feel lackluster, but for someone who is into, say, a game like DROD (a game that looks like a low-rent top-down dungeon crawler, but soon reveals itself to be pure puzzle, in its case because it’s 100% turn based, monsters moving only after you’ve moved or rotated your sword) Beret struck me as near perfection, a true puzzle-platformer the way that Portal felt like a true First-Person-Puzzler.

    But to each his/her own, of course… [end evangelizing]

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