Review: Windosill

Well, this is just dreamy, quite literally.

Vectorpark, aka Patrick Smith, has released his new downloadable flash – well, I hesitate to call it a ‘game’ – toy/puzzle. And it is utterly charming and beautiful. As an added bonus, the first half of it is free, with the latter half available for a measly $3.

The title screen. The toy train, letters, branches and cloud are all physical objects which can be interacted with. Oh, and the doors, of course.

The title screen. The toy train, letters, branches and cloud are all physical objects which can be interacted with. Oh, and the doors, of course.

There’s no real plot, so to speak – like so many flash games, you control a cursor, in this case one whose main aim is to get a toy train through a series of doors. Each door entered brings the train – and the player – to a new screen, with a new puzzle to solve. Like many flash puzzles before it (particularly those from Vectorpark), the puzzles and settings are highly abstracted, with each new screen requiring you to tap into its inner logic before you are able to solve it.

The aesthetic is sublime, that much is clear from the offset, but what really stands out is the physicality of the game: all of the objects feel gloriously right: the train feels like a wooden toy; stone blocks have real weight behind them; string has just the right level of elasticity – and all of this is accompanied by perfectly suited audio accompaniment. The game has no music, but makes extensive use of sound effects: most items in the game emit noises which, true to the rest of the game, feel just right. Achieving such a sensation of naturalism in any game would be impressive – that this was managed by one man in flash is incredible.

Another of the early screens, this puzzle has just been solved.

Another of the early screens, this puzzle has just been solved.

Unfortunately, there is a payoff: flash is not the most efficient of engines, and when the game is pushing around large numbers of physical objects it can can become a little sluggish, at least on slower systems. It’s no Crysis, but it is noticeabley processor intensive, and it can spoil the atmosphere a little: those on lower-end machines will definitely want to try the first half of the game before deciding whether to commit to the full version.

The game is also fleeting: half an hour to completion on a first go, as a generous estimate. However, it lends itself to replaying – solving the puzzles is almost secondary to playing with the various toys the game throws your way, and it is a pleasure just to run through the areas again knowing exactly what is going on in each.

 

One final image, of the first level to be unlocked upon paying your $3. Utterly bizarre to look at, but somehow makes perfect sense when you're actually playing around with it.

One final image, of the first level to be unlocked upon paying your $3. Utterly bizarre to look at, but somehow makes perfect sense when you're actually playing around with it.

 

 

There really is very little to Windosill. But it’s so wonderfully put together, so coherent in its design in all respects, that it is utterly worth playing. Accessible yet opaque, the game conveys a perfect dreamlike state, with a wide variety of fantastical worlds on display, despite occupying only ten screens and relying almost entirely on toy-based imagery for its designs. An incredible display of elegant design, Windosill will charm all but the hardest hearts. You can find it here.

Charming %

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