Schattenspiel is an upcoming puzzle game by Tobias Werner (Pzzl., Multicolored) that challenges players to recreate specific shadow formations by rearranging the lights that are producing them. The name translates from German as “shadow theater,” which feels accurate as you’re dragging light bulbs around the game board and causing the gray cones beyond the light to dance in response.
Each level takes place on a five-by-five grid which contains a number of lamps and blocks. The lamps generate light in 360 degrees and the blocks prevent light from passing, resulting in shadows that extend beyond the blocks on the sides opposite the lamp. Your goal in each stage is to arrange all lamps and blocks so that the direction and intensity of the shadows on your board match the pattern at the top of the screen.
While this is a simple task in concept, the stages offer significant challenges from the very beginning, requiring movements that are thoughtful of all the objects on the board and their interaction with each other. Move a lamp to adjust one block’s shadow and you impact them all; turn a lamp on or off and you drastically change the entire board’s pattern. Some stages require you to combine lamps into more powerful, single beams that will produce darker, single-source shadows. You might have to hide a block within the shadow of another to produce fewer cones in total. There’s a surprising amount of variety created from just moving light-casting and light-blocking objects on a grid.
Despite the difficulty, Schattenspiel still feels relaxed thanks to its lack of any sort of timed pressure. It’s also extremely easy to test adjustments since the board reacts to your movements constantly: you can drag a light around without dropping it and watch as the shadows shift with every slight change. It’s functional and beautiful, a dance of light and shadow flowing around your fingertip.
Schattenspiel will launch with 81 levels on July 27th. It will be available for $0.99 on iOS devices.