Everyone Is Going To Ruin This For Me Aren’t They

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Of all the games I saw at Summer Game Fest’s Play Days, I have the most mixed feelings about Islands of Insight. Revealed at the PC Gaming Show, Islands of Insight is a semi-open shared world puzzle-adventure game from Lunarch Studios, published by Dead By Daylight’s Behavior Interactive. It’s the MMO puzzle game I never thought I wanted, and I’m still not sure I want.



My brief introduction to the title islands of insight was interesting. Each floating landmass is covered in puzzles to solve, and you have complete freedom to explore at your own pace and solve anything that catches your eye. Most of the puzzles fall into a few archetypes that recur throughout the world, so you can choose to focus on solving all the puzzles of one type or just wander around and tackle them in any order. There’s an element of The Witness in the way Islands of Insight’s puzzles echo and build on each other as you progress through the game.

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The developers showed off a few different puzzle archetypes during the demo to give me a sense of what kind of challenges to expect. While I haven’t seen all the different types of puzzles and I don’t know how many there are, I couldn’t help but notice that they all have similar mechanics. More than half of the puzzles I saw were perspective-based, requiring you to stand in a certain position and look at the object from the right angle to find the solution. The first involved finding a pair of matching symbols and then finding a location in the world where you could see both at the same time. One involved seeing a series of obelisks that projected beams of light at you, then standing in the perfect spot where all the beams could reach you unimpeded. There was one that looked like a tangle of wires floating in the sky, but if you looked at it from the right angle, the lines would separate. It even had a classic jigsaw puzzle where a picture is painted on several unrelated surfaces and you have to look at it from the right angle and distance to match the lines to form a picture.

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Other non-perspective based puzzles included several 2D logic puzzles similar to those found in The Witness. They can be found floating around the world or attached to walls, and as you interact with them, you’ll be able to complete a series of challenges of increasing difficulty and complexity, all using the same mechanics. There are your standard sliding block puzzles, a match-three style puzzle where you have to clear the board by combining blocks of the same color, and a puzzle where you have to manipulate an image of inkblots until it reflects the given example – which is kind of like a 2D version of perspective puzzles.

Islands of Insight looks like it has a beautiful world to explore and plenty of puzzles to keep you busy – although many of them are quite similar – but it’s also meant to be a social experience. I didn’t see it in the demo, and the developers couldn’t say much about how the multiplayer works, but I was told that Islands of Insight will always be a server-based online experience, meaning that whenever you play, you will run into other players exploring, solving puzzles and i guess trolling you.

I’m primarily an online gamer and I generally find that social features add a lot to the experience. I love that Diablo 4 is a vibrant world and I can work with other players to defeat world bosses and complete public events. At the same time, I’m not entirely sure how playing with other people will affect Islands of Insight, other than giving them a chance to screw up my puzzles.

If I’m struggling with a solution, it might be cool to ask a bystander for help or try to solve with another player instead of resorting to a guide. It keeps me in the game and has the potential to create a memorable moment so I can kind of see what Lunarch is up to. But if I’m being realistic, the more likely scenario is that I’m trying to solve a puzzle and someone runs up and tells me the answer, or stands in front of me so I can’t see the solution, or responds with emotion, tells me where to look, or follows me around, when I’m trying to be alone, he DMs me with an offensive word. We all know how people behave online, and I’m not sure that giving a bunch of people the freedom of virtual anonymity and the tools to harass each other is going to lead to the kind of cool and calm atmospheres that the developers kept telling me they were going for.

If nothing else, it’s a bold concept for a puzzle game. As someone who has played The Talos Principle and The Witness multiple times, Islands of Insight has just the right style. I’d like to see more variety in the puzzles, and I’m terrified to see how others will handle the game, but it does enough things right that I’m willing to give it a chance. No release date has been announced, but you can wishlist Islands of Insight on Steam right away.

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