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The Ugly Monster

PEGBRJE: ‘Cotrio’ and ‘[HammerA] Hammer Time !’

What a way to start, huh.

Cotrio is a numerical puzzle game crafted by Bartosz Bialek, an indie dev based in Poland. Players will use their ability to add as they attempt to ‘zero’ out the nodes and make everything colourful once again.

Cotrio is a bit hard to explain. The goal is to add the numbers given to the nodes so that two of the diagonal nodes will equal the third of the triangle. The big thing to fear is that adjacent nodes cannot have the same number in them, or the game is over and the round is restarted. This means that players cannot use two of the fours to make an eight, as that would mean that the fours would have to be adjacent. Instead, players need to find creative ways to slot the numbers in so that they can get the additives going, especially with how the numbers given are in a seemingly random order.

As the game goes on and the player gets more comfortable, the difficulty comes from the three numbers picked as negatives are introduced. Thankfully a coloured node does not mean that it is unusable, so players can keep using all six nodes until they are finished; or until the turns run out.

From just words alone this sounds complicated. Thankfully, Cotrio does a fantastic job of teaching the player at the beginning with a mixture of player interaction and text to reinforce. The text is only there to double down on the mechanics if the player did not understand it the first time. There is even a failsafe if players accidentally put duplicate numbers adjacent so that they can finish the first level uninterrupted.

It’s brilliant, turning the simple process of addition in to a resource management and puzzle game at the same time. Keeping certain nodes free so that undesired numbers can be placed is always smart, while adjacent nodes can be used to add the numbers that are needed to succeed. The aesthetic is calming with encouraging words, and the colours are vibrant yet soft. And it can even be played on mobile!

Cotrio will just suck you in if you aren’t paying attention. If you want 80 levels of number puzzles, you have your match.

[HammerA] Hammer Time ! is an interactive animation game created by K.hermann, the indie dev from Senegal that brought us Star and Light 1.0. This time players will be transported to a fantastical world in which nails have come to life and are abandoning their ‘post’. It is up to the Hammer Girls to put them back in to the wood to keep the buildings structurally safe.

There are only two buttons required to play Hammer Time! Players will alternate between H and T to hammer in the nails. Each successful button press will continue the animation to the next section, while miss-timing will loop the previous section back again. The timing window is a bit difficult to hit at first, but over time players will be able to do it without a second thought as they are more focused on the animation itself.

The game is more of a vehicle for the animated glory that is the story. It highlights the woman’s struggles to keep the nails in check while wielding a massive freaking hammer to do so. Her super strength and agility allow her to catch up to these nails no matter how many failures the player may have, and still move the plot forward. Once players reach the end, there is even a New Game + animation that removes which button is required to tap — players can just press between either H or T to fulfill it.

It’s hard to discuss without spoiling, but the interactive narrative is what makes Hammer Time ! so interesting. It’s a technical feat to pull off, especially within Flash. If you are in to witnessing art from cultures that are not exposed often in Western media, or just really love technical animation work, this is a great game to witness.