Samsara’s simple concepts and small scale hides surprisingly devious puzzles. It’s a puzzler that encourages you to think differently, and when it all clicks in your mind you can find yourself completing two or three quandaries in a row before the next, inevitable challenge stumps you. It makes the experience fun, with bouts of difficulty eventually giving way to satisfaction when you figure it out, however, it’s all over pretty quickly.
Indeed, Samsara is a cleverly constructed puzzle game. You must manipulate a set number of blocks, in the shape of squares and rectangles, in order to build a path for the young girl protagonist to travel from the start point to the portal exit. However, quickly Samsara becomes more complex, giving you a second character to also construct a safe path for, the shadow of the protagonist, who is present in a mirror image of the level projected beneath as if reflected in a body of water, with the blocks casting their own reflections and building paths for both. It’s a unique idea that soon sees additional puzzle elements that further adds to the complexity and challenge.
Nine themed locations, each with eight levels, challenge you in creating these paths for the protagonist and her shadow, with new block types that have different physics for reality and the reflection, as well as disappearing platforms cropping up and changing how you solve each level. What starts off as relatively simple soon becomes quite the head scratcher, especially the later levels that incorporate moving and shifting blocks due to gravity and disappearing platforms working in tandem. This changes the paths as the protagonist and her shadow move along them, jumping between reality and the reflection via portals, before finally reaching their own, unique exits. It’s remarkably clever at times and helps encourage you to solve the puzzles and push forwards to see what surprises await you in the next level.
However, unfortunately it’s all over within a few hours, with minimal replayability. Once a puzzle is solved it holds no more mystery. They can’t be solved in different ways, there are no collectables to encourage experimentation, only the odd achievement to draw you back in if the completionist bug should take hold of you.
Certainly, Samsara is an inventive and challenge puzzle game with some clever ideas, and it’s remarkable how much design there is in these small levels, however, it’s only likely to keep you busy for a single session.
Thanks to Xbox and Marker Limited for supporting TiX