Scanning through the cheap games during the most recent Steam sale I ran across a little indie game called Ichi. While the cheap price initially got my attention, after looking at the game I thought it looked interesting. I am a sucker for well designed interesting puzzle games. Despite being very simple and short, Ichi was a surprisingly good little puzzle game.
All It Takes Is One Button
If I had one word to describe Ichi, it would be simple. Ichi has to be one of the simplest games I have ever played. As a matter of fact it only takes one button to play the entire game. Clicking the left mouse is the only input the entire game requires (probably replaced by tapping the screen on the mobile versions of the game). You would think that a game that only uses one button would not make for a good game? Ichi is a surprisingly good puzzle game though.
Ichi is a good game because it is so simple. Anyone who has any passing interest in puzzle games can play Ichi. Ichi essentially has five different mechanics: rotating pieces, activating/deactivating pieces, drawing lines/walls, moving between warp spots, and using/destroying blocking pieces. If you get these five mechanics down, you shouldn’t have too much trouble solving any of the puzzles.
While Ichi is simple to play, that doesn’t mean that the game is easy. While you can probably solve quite a few of the puzzles right away, you will need to take some time to solve some of them. This is a true testament to how well designed the puzzles are in Ichi. With only a couple objects on the screen in each level, the designers did a great job creating puzzles where you will be moving the “ball” all over the screen utilizing all of the different mechanics in the game.
For the most part Ichi does a good job of blending challenge versus accessibility. Ichi is on the easier side of puzzle games but it should at least challenge most players. Until the later puzzles you probably won’t spend much more than a couple minutes on each puzzle. Some of the later puzzles will take a little more time to solve. What I like about Ichi is that the puzzles are designed in a way where you can systematically work out how to solve each puzzle. When solving these puzzles you feel a sense of accomplishment unlike the sense of frustration you feel after solving puzzles in some of the harder puzzle games. If you get stuck on a puzzle I would recommend thinking about where you can place lines/walls since pretty much every time I got stuck was due to forgetting to place a line/wall.
Another thing that adds to the charm of Ichi is the art style. Ichi has a crayon/coloring book type of visual style that works really well with it’s simple straight forward gameplay. The art style works so well because it lets you focus on the gameplay instead of the graphics. For a puzzle game the graphics aren’t really important as long as they are not distracting. This holds true in Ichi.
Bang For Your Buck
Overall Ichi is not a particularly long game. The game has 60 levels included but each are pretty short. If you would get each puzzle correct on your first attempt, each level would at max take 30 seconds. You very likely will not get many of the puzzles solved on your first try. Generally each puzzle ends up taking a couple minutes to solve. The later levels may take 10-15 minutes. It took me roughly 3 hours to complete all 60 levels. While the puzzles in Ichi are clever and fun to play through, I don’t really see why you would want to replay any of them unless you really wanted to improve your score on the level.
One thing that may improve the length of the game is the included level editor. As of the time of this post there were over 50,000 levels created by players. I didn’t spend a lot of time with these user generated levels since these type of levels don’t usually appeal to me. The couple highly rated levels that I tried seemed to be quite difficult. If you want a challenge or are willing to take the time to look for some adequately challenging levels, you can probably get a decent amount of gameplay out of this mode.
How much value you ultimately get out of Ichi will depend on what type of sale you get the game in. During the most recent Steam sale, I bought a two pack of the game for around $0.60. At that price, Ichi is a very good deal if you like puzzle games. Ichi retails at $4.99 which isn’t terrible but is a little overpriced in my opinion unless you really get into playing the community created levels. The game does appear to go on sale pretty regularly so I would personally wait to purchase the game until it is on sale.
Despite being such a simple game where you actually only use one mouse button to play the entire game, Ichi is an entertaining little puzzle game. Despite being so easy to play, some of the puzzles will make you think in order to solve them. The only real complaint I have with the game is the short length. Unless you can get into the community created levels, you will only spend a couple hours with the game.
If you don’t like puzzle games you won’t like Ichi. If you like easy to play but somewhat challenging puzzle games, I think you will really like Ichi.