Weekly Time-Waster: Continuity

Whatever repressed, stranded-at-Cracker-Barrel family memories you might associate with sliding tile games, the genre apparently isn't a lost cause. Continuity is half tile-puzzle game / half platformer that creates its own breed of enjoyable play. At last weekend's Indiecade festival in California, it won the prize for the browser game category, and earlier in the year it took home other honors from both the 2010 Swedish Game Awards and the Independent Games Festival. That all goes to prove that this is one bonafide time-waster.

In terms of how to play, you use the spacebar to switch back and forth between two different types of interaction: move the pieces of the level around like a tile puzzle, or move your character around inside one of the tiles to try and get the red key to the locked, red exit door. In order to move between the tiles, you have to find ones whose inputs and outputs line up exactly and arrange them next to each other. As you progress, the levels get more intricate and devious, either through the addition of more tiles, more false fits, or just through plain craftiness of the puzzles (hint: in the later stages it is often necessary to switch tiles mid-jump).

Aesthetically, it's easy to see why Continuity has garnered so many praises. The design and visual style is crisp and highlights the kind of spatial reasoning necessary to get through the game. The zooming effect of switching between the modes of play also makes for a smooth transition and gives the player an intuitive sense of how it all goes together. Not being able to see all the tiles at once while you're running around collecting the key also forces you to keep your wits sharp as you try and remember what your plan was for getting to the end.

There are a lot of games out there these days that employ the minimal silhouetted style. If you finish Continuity and want more, you might also try Shift, which is a little older and not quite as aesthetically polished, but it brings its own enjoyable puzzling twist to the standard platformer. As for its Cracker-Barrel quotient, however, there isn't one -- we're still waiting for a "50 Rocking Chairs in a Row" game to really capture that experience for posterity.

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