A Puzzle Game That Lets You Change the Rules of Puzzles!

[Image courtesy of Linux Game Consortium.]

Solving puzzles through different mediums can lead to unexpected and challenging solving experiences.

One advantage that video game puzzles have over their pencil-and-paper counterparts is that, while the paper puzzles are a one-stop shop for a puzzle experience, there’s no adaptation, no evolution, no development for the solver or chance to build upon what they’ve learned through multiple solves or repetition.

In video game puzzles, on the other hand, repetition is the name of the game. New skills and techniques are immediately tested by clever twists on established puzzles, so you’re never resting on your puzzly laurels.

For example, while discussing the classic puzzle platforming game Portal, my friend once described it as a game that reprograms your brain with each puzzle you solve, transforming alongside the player. (This is also a hallmark of many of the puzzle games offered by our friends at ThinkFun.)

[Image courtesy of Game Informer.]

That sort of reprogramming is at the heart of the puzzle experience in a new game called Baba Is You.

In Baba Is You, the gameplay consists of objects to move and manipulate, as well as word blocks that form rules for the game itself. You start off by being able to move Baba, a small rabbit-like creature, around obstacles, with the goal of reaching a golden flag. So, the word blocks read “Baba is you” and “flag is win,” which both tell you the starting rules and the goal.

[Image courtesy of Kotaku.]

By changing these word blocks, you change the rules, effectively reprogramming what you can do in each level.

Kotaku explains this concept well:

One clump might say “Baba is you,” which means Baba is the character you control. Another might say “Rock is push,” which means you can push rocks, or “Wall is stop,” which means you can’t walk through walls…

You rearrange individual words to solve the puzzles. There are usually multiple options, depending on where the words are placed. In the above example, you could remove “stop” from “wall” and pass through the barrier. You could attach “wall” to “is push” instead of “is stop” and push it out of the way. You could make yourself the wall by pushing the word “wall” before “is you.” Or you could make the wall the win condition and touch that instead of the flag.

[Image courtesy of Kotaku.]

So, essentially, you solve each puzzle by obeying the rules, changing the rules, and then obeying the new rules. And since puzzles are all about figuring out how to accomplish tasks by adhering to certain rules, this creates a fascinating new style of puzzle. It’s almost like improvisational comedy or Calvinball, except it’s not played for humor.

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a puzzle game that lets you alter HOW you play as drastically and as simply as this. You literally make and break the rules here, depending on how clever you are.

Baba Is You is available for PC and Switch, and I look forward to seeing more diabolical puzzling like this in the future.


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It’s Follow-Up Friday: Crossword Contest Conclusion edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and bring the PuzzleNation audience up to speed on all things puzzly.

And today, I’m returning to the subject of crossword contests!

Last month, I announced the latest crossword contest from the topnotch puzzlers at Barany and Friends. The contest, titled Eliminating the Competition, wrapped up on February 8, but the answer to the meta puzzle concealed within each grid was only revealed this week!

As it turns out, the crafty cruciverbalists paid tribute to the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament by dropping the letters A, C, P, and T from the theme entries in the grid! Not only that, but there were no As, Cs, Ps, or Ts to be found anywhere else in the puzzle grid! Diabolical!

Open division puzzle theme answers:

  • They are left over after division: REMINDERS (“Remainders” with the A eliminated)
  • Lack of affection, say: HILLINESS (“Chilliness” with the C eliminated)
  • A cylindrical utensil used to flatten dough: ROLLING IN (“Rolling pin” with the P eliminated)
  • They’re often found in churches or on campuses: BELL OWERS (“Bell towers” with the T eliminated)

They also hid the reveal, MHU, in the lower right corner. (Fiendishly, MHU is MATCHUP with A, C, P, and T eliminated!)

You can check out the full details of the meta puzzle here, including the theme answers for both the Open Division puzzle and the Master Division puzzle, which was a doozy!

But there’s more! They’ve also announced the prizes for the winners, which include paid registrations to the ACPT, puzzle e-books, crossword subscriptions, autographed puzzle books, and specialized crossword puzzles with the winner’s name built into the grid!

They’ve truly gone all out this year to make the Eliminating the Competition contest something special. Kudos to George Barany, Ralph Bunker, John Child, Michael Hanko, and Roy Leban for creating a terrific challenge and a puzzly feast for solvers.

Did you accept the Barany and Friends challenge this year, fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers? Let us know if you did! We’d love to hear from you!


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You can also share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and explore the always-expanding library of PuzzleNation apps and games on our website!