These days, geometry and puzzle games go together like peanut butter and jelly—a familiar, comfortable pairing that is tough to make innovative. We may already know what to expect from cubes and planes and trajectories; but just when we think we’ve seen all the ways that sandwich can be made, someone turns it on its side.
Outfolded from 3 Sprockets is a fresh, elegant geo-loving puzzler that lets you unfurl 3-dimensional shapes made up of cubes, leaving a path of your planes behind you. Think of when you gift-wrap a box and roll the package on its sides to see how much wrapping paper you’ll need— Outfolded would be something like the inverse of that.
You are provided with shapes you’ll need to unfold to trace a path from a starting square to a goal square. Your unfolding sides must maintain contact with the game board and you must use all provided shapes to reach the goal. If a shape is unable to be unfolded any further while still maintaining contact with the board, your remaining planes will disappear, shortening the distance you can cover with your pieces. The landscape over which you are traversing is a three-quarter top down view that feels like a slow progression up a hill.
Each new shape introduced creates new dynamics in how you’ll need to move along the board. Large squares with holes, zigzags, crosses and asymmetrical pieces add challenges, while large gaps and islands complicate your journey even more. Outfolded makes powerful use of very simple restrictions that inspire creativity as you try to work around them.
The difficulty ramp feels reasonable and if you get stuck, there are hints to earn during gameplay which are scattered strategically through levels. You can also watch video ads or purchase hint packages. But beware, because one hint will be used for one shape, so you may need to use two for a level if you’re really struggling. But causing you to struggle seems to be far from the goal of the designers.
The relaxing spirit of the game is reinforced throughout the entire experience. Early on, you are asked to “Slow down, relax, take your time.” You are reminded that you have unlimited “undos” so you can go back and restart a level as often as you need. The color palettes and the music are both restful while also having an endearing, gentle vibrancy. Though Outfolded is an endless game based solely on progressing through levels, there isn’t much urgency around the gameplay. On the contrary, the endless undos mean that the only real stress is whatever you put on yourself. Come and go as you please and enjoy unwrapping each little puzzle gift in your own time.
I did notice that several times on my iPhone 6, I was unable to swipe effectively to rotate a shape on the first try, especially if it was a plane on the far side of the shape. Movement seemed to be mapped to contact with the tiny side of the object itself rather than the direction of the swipe. This issue may be remedied by a larger screen, but it would be great to be able to use directional swiping rather than requiring contact with shape itself. It would also be nice to undo a move by simply swiping back to the previous spot rather than leaving the board.
Overall, Outfolded will be appealing for puzzle-lovers — but also for those who enjoy a mellow game experience with some brain-teasing as well. The chill-but-challenging vibe will keep you progressing without any pressure and feeling clever while you do it.