(Disclosure: Writer was given a key for this game by the developer for review purposes. You can find it here on Steam for $4.99 USD. imprint-X was developed by Morgendag. We also reviewed another of their titles, RymdResa, which can be found here.)
Where to begin?
imprint-X is a minimalist puzzle solving game with little room for error, and some repetition in the game play. Despite this, it offers puzzles that will be difficult for some, and an interesting experience for the price. The music, while also repetitive, does fit the atmosphere of the title. And the graphics, while something of a health hazard for some, are interesting enough to keep your attention.
Being a minimalist title with no dialogue one is left to interpret for themselves what exactly is happening, with help from the game’s intro and what few cut scenes are given. What will follow is my interpretation of the incident leading up to this game.
This game’s puzzles and game play is how you will carry out this awakening, essentially.
Gregarious Game play
The best way to describe imprint-X’s game play is as a series of various mechanical puzzles strung together with the story line. Starting with simple mechanical push-button puzzles in the first part of the game, leading into later worlds (five in total, not counting the Boss rush mode) which feature Cardmatch games, Simon Says, Pattern Recognition, Reflex, and Mash button puzzles.
There is a catch, however. You are required to do all these puzzles before running out of mouse button presses (Which the game refers to as Function Calls), or you will be faced with this ugly bastard which is the price for failure.
Meanwhile, you are also tasked with gathering hearts that provide power-ups in the form of level-skips, time slowing, and more function calls to allow you to complete the level properly.
If one were to rush to the end of the game (No perfects) to getwhat I would deem the “Game Journalist’s” ending, it takes about 2 hours of game play (Without level skipping). To get the perfect ending, judging from the amount of puzzles involved, I estimate that it would require about 4-6 hours of game play.
Now, I am not the slickest of clickmans. Some of the puzzles stymied me for the longest time. Mainly those involving memory or requiring reflexes for you to be fast enough to click particular buttons in the correct order. But with the exception of a single level, I managed to do just enough to get the Game Journalist’s ending. imprint-X requires memory, reflexes, and logic, of which the first two I am sadly lacking... and depending on who you ask, also stymied in the latter.
Which comes to the next part.
The game features one of the more annoying boss levels I’ve ever encountered. It requires the player to click the mouse in sync with a number of circles moving about in predetermined tracks around the screen to catch the circles in a number of boxes. And to add to it, the background becomes an epileptic blur which is timed to the sound track. With every beat comes a flash of the background, which amplifies the difficulty, and gave me something of a headache. But I beat the bare minimum of bosses, including the 5th World, which is nothing but a randomized set of the game’s boss battles.
That gripe aside, the rest of the game’s puzzles make sense after fiddling with the buttons they give you, lighting up to give you a hint to the rest of the puzzle. Once you complete it, you’re drawn into the machine’s doors, and brought to the next level in the chain. You’re then given a report based on how well you did. Do well enough over several levels, and you’re given another heart to add to your three power-ups.
The graphics are a minimalist semi-pixelated collage between the cutesy clone girl in the bottom right corner that panics, cheers, or grows increasingly worried (depending on your progress), and the mechanical atmosphere that pervades every part of the game inside and outside of her VR headset. Sharp edges of the machines are inter spaced with the round, square or triangle states of the lights, with rounded buttons giving off a utilitarian but user-friendly feel.
The backgrounds are nebulae, with lightning bolts in the black expansive void of space. Each of which flash, again, in time with the music. This gives a stark contrast to the floating machines on which each of the puzzles lie, and seems to ensure the user is given the sensation of floating.
Taking it all in together, the game’s art direction reminds the writer of a Heavy Metal Magazine cover, with large amounts of pinks and purples, mixed in with stark chrome and contrasting with the bright green, yellows and reds of the lights.
Overall, for what they have attempted with the art style, it all collides together into an almost 80’s pastiche of the mechanical meeting with the bio-organic, of the machine face man imprinting on the Clone girl. They did a fairly decent job in this department is what I’m saying.
Being an 80s inspired game, it would not be complete without an entirely electronica based soundtrack. It is more retrowave than EDM, featuring a fairly moderate BPM, and a melody that you can follow. My only disparaging comment for this part of the game is that there is nowhere near enough songs. Featuring only one for the main menu, one for the ambient background of each world choice, one song for all the puzzles, and one song for all the boss battles. It can become somewhat repetitive.
Technical & Settings
There is nothing overly required by the settings manager here. There is not much out of the way available, outside of resolution control, audio and the game’s UI. Being an entirely 2 dimensional game has its benefits.
There has been no bugs encountered while playing this game, thankfully. Your mileage may vary, but there has yet to be a single one for me.
For a more recent puzzler game on Steam, imprint-X offers difficult gameplay (especially for achievement hunters and perfectionists), a surreal minimalist story, excellent but for repetitive music, with a bug free experience. As said before, it took roughly two hours to finish to get to the non-perfect ending, but I recommend those looking for a simpler or calmer puzzler experience to stay away.
And a final warning to those who have epilepsy: stay far away from this one due to screen flashing with the music. For anyone else who appreciates a respectably difficult puzzle game I would recommend it.
Purchase imprint-X at full price if you like a difficult puzzle solving game with a nostalgic feel.
Purchase imprint-X at discount if you are somewhat put off by the graphics, not the best at puzzlers, or don’t like not having dialogue to follow a story to.
Do not purchase if you are easily discouraged by aforementioned difficult puzzles, or are anti-minimalist for whatever reason... or have epilepsy.
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