In development since 2020, recently released Gridspech (Krackocloud, 2023) pulled me into its orbit and I couldn’t escape until I had solved every one of its puzzles.

And I am here, at the end of the adventure, to tell you Gridspech is awesome.

Nutshell: Lean puzzler with plenty of tricky content, offering puzzles in the vein of Taiji.

Like Understand (Artless Games, 2020), Gridspech has no voice. The presentation is clean, verging on sterile; it presents you with puzzles and waits for you to make a move. There’s nothing to distract you. There’s no island. No funky sculptures. No hidden meaning. It’s just you versus a grid.

Gridspech has a finite number of rules and makes the most of them. I sensed something chess-like about its symbology – you’ll come to recognise what could be a bishop, a crown and a… kite. But even here there’s nothing helpful to be found. None of the rules resemble anything from chess. In case you didn’t see me stream it for Thinky Games, I won’t divulge any of the mechanics here. Better you work them out yourself.

When Gridspech works multiple rules into a single puzzle, sometimes the resulting hybrid challenge is simpler than you might imagine. Each symbol introduces its own constraint, and each additional constraint erodes the possibility space.

I didn’t have too much difficulty working out the meaning of the various symbols until I came across the kite. I elbowed my way through the first few kite puzzles but I didn’t understand any of the solutions I drew. It took me a week before I could fathom the kite’s logic.

And the penultimate row on level select – that shit was wild, man. At first, I assumed no human would be capable of solving such puzzles with logic but THIS HUMAN DID. What I am actually trying to say is YOU CAN TOO.

It’s not all gold and gravy. There were some puzzles, such as I11, that I found impossible to logic my way through, forced to whittle away possibilities until a solution revealed itself. I’d like to have solved every one with smarts rather than divining a solution through wandering guesswork, but it was not to be.

Looking back over the Gridspech development history, it seems the game warns you if you find “a novel solution”. Krackocloud would then “improve” the puzzle to remove the alternate solutions. While I can imagine a puzzle designer would prefer to weed out simple solutions, I’m somewhat on the fence about whether it was necessary to eliminate every alternative.

One last thing. I did hesitate with a furrowed brow when a fresh mechanic was revealed on the last row of Gridspech. I felt it was a “cheap boost” of complexity rather than a genuine twist to the mechanics. You may not have the same response but I’d like to go on the record and admit I enjoyed most of these final puzzles.

All in all, a classy piece of work.

Gridspech is free to play in your browser but you can give back to the author on the game’s itch page.

Previous Puzzlework: Stereo Boy

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6 thoughts on “Puzzleworks, 10: Gridspech

  1. Thanks a lot for the recommendation – I’m near the end of E and loving this!
    One frequent annoyance, though – the UI doesn’t allow for marking a square blank, as far as I can see, which makes it much harder if I don’t have pen&paper handy! I suppose I could deface a screenshot and then go back, but it seems an odd omission unless there’s some good reason in the puzzles I haven’t reached yet?

  2. Hey Phlebas, right-click can “lock” a cell and – either set or unset – placing a diagonal across it. That’s what I was using to mark out cells I thought were blank.

  3. I didn’t realize that – thanks! I’ve been playing it on my mobile though, will have to experiment and see if there’s an equivalent to right-clicking. I _thought_ I’d tried clicking and holding but I’ll double-check.

  4. Doesn’t look like it. The issue has been raised on the itch page recently though, maybe there will be a solution. Meanwhile I suppose I get to feel extra clever solving puzzles in hard mode!

  5. Thanks for the suggestion, this was fun.

    I agree that the more rules are added, the more streamlined the puzzling becomes. I don’t feel there’s anything like the wild variety of Understand though; if you’re familiar with paper puzzles like Arukone / Numberlink and, more exotically, Snake Egg, you’re not going to sweat much. If you aren’t the lemma pool is just about big enough for the size of game. For its teaching section, crowns were hard to properly articulate, and the, um.. globs? tiles? were taught in a marginal, ornery manner, mostly because it was done one version at a time. I can see people getting hard stuck there.

    H was the section that hurt me the most, because it badly messed with visual scanning and forced me into slow walking it. The final section seemed much easier, but that may just be because I figured effective notation.

    Spoiling I11 now, you need to prove to yourself that you need two colors in the edge rows and cols, and 3 of them in the top 2×2, which implies that one of them forms a full internal border. Add to that the usual restrictions of the setup, and your options are basically non-existent.

  6. Hello hroom, sorry I forgot about replying to this comment! :S

    I’ve taken another look at I11 but I’m still having problems. I think that proof of two colours in the edges is giving me problems. I start from the crowns at the bottom (lime/red/unlit) and I did deduce the solution with a single reasonable assumption (that the lime line doesn’t go straight up from the crown into an endpoint) but it was still an assumption.

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