[Note: I received a free copy of this puzzle in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.]
Imagine embodying the forces behind the Big Bang. Science fiction writers do this all the time, bringing into being entire new planets, studding them with swathes of land and bodies of water, devising chemically unfamiliar atmospheres. While I am a writer, fiction is not my forte, meaning that the wonders of world-building are typically out of my wheelhouse—at least, they were. Enter Thinkfun’s GeoLogic: World-Changing Logic Puzzle. This puzzle sells itself as an opportunity to “create your own world,” and “become a planetary architect,” promises that appeal to me as a science fiction fan. The puzzle is recommended for ages eight and up, and requires only one player, though planet-building can be a team activity too.
GeoLogic offers a route to science-fictional world-building other than the written word, bringing the invention of alien landscapes into the hands-on, three-dimensional realm. Born from a conversation between inventors Ken and Jeremy about the concept of a thirty-sided game die, the puzzle consists of a thirty-sided planetary core, fourteen snap-in-place pieces representing five biomes, and sixty challenge cards. Cards range from easy to expert, each indicating where certain biome pieces should go on the planetary core to start. The solver is then left to figure out where to insert a list of remaining biome pieces in order to completely cover the globe’s surface.
The challenge cards are optional; they are intended for players who would prefer to test spatial-logical skills rather than engage in more free-form, creative play. This mode of engaging with GeoLogic still has a science-fictional appeal; it just happens to fall more into the category of consuming science fiction than acting as its mastermind. If you dream of discovering new planets through a process of trial-and-error, then you’ll likely find using the challenge cards a perfect way to spend an afternoon, working your way up the ladder of difficulty levels.
If you’d rather ignore the challenge cards instead, you can take the game up on its suggestion that you “get creative and design your own planets.” As the box asks, “Want to create the largest landmass known to humans? Or oceans that span half the globe?” Now’s your chance! This approach to GeoLogic does require a certain amount of spatial-logical skill, as the goal remains the same: cover all thirty sides of the planetary core in some combination of awkwardly-shaped desert, forest, mountains, tundra, and ocean. If you are looking for a purely creative exercise, you might find the limitations of where the different biome pieces fit to be a frustrating hindrance to your imagination running wild.
The solver most likely to be enchanted by GeoLogic, by my estimate, is the Tetris fan who longs for a more tactile experience—snapping the pieces into place on the core is very satisfying—and who can appreciate a sprinkling of science-fictional creativity. Those driven to the product by the idea of creating new worlds are less likely to feel fulfilled, but the core and biomes could certainly be used as a jumping-off point for contemplating what different worlds are possible. Dreaming big and freely when it comes to alternate worlds is important, yes. Possibly more important, for those interested in changing the world we’ve been handed, is knowing how to still dream big when complex limitations are imposed upon us from outside.
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