There was some excitement over a Sudoku video last week, the “Miracle Sudoku”, where a handful of arcane rules and just two numbers allows a Sudoku expert to fill the board. And it blows him away after he initially thought it was a joke.
And I thought, well, that’s how Tametsi makes me feel.
Nutshell: Hard Minesweeper with interesting ruleset. Later levels take me an hour per board. Unfinished.
The modern Minesweeper is solvable – hey, let’s call them “Minesolvers“ – and I’ve previously waxed lyrical about one of my faves, the minimalist RYB (FLEB, 2016). I found Hexcells (Matthew Brown, 2013) pretty easy, more of a zen exercise, while the followup Hexcells Plus (Matthew Brown, 2014) turned out to be too laborious for my love. And then there is Tametsi (Grip Top Games, 2017), a game I still have not completed.
Minesolvers deal with three types of information. Cells offer local information; normally, when you click them open, they’ll tell you how many of their neighbours are mined. This is followed by aggregate information which tell you something about a batch of cells; for example, Hexcells may tell you how many mines exist in a slice of the grid. And then there is global information which tells you something about the whole board.
Tametsi has a similar ruleset to Hexcells and, initially, does not seem all that different. Tametsi presents multiple grid types – squares, octagons and all sorts of tessellations. But then it also assigns colours to the hidden mines and begins to offer information relating to those colours. So Tametsi‘s global information will not just tell you the total number of mines but the total number of mines in each colour.
Minesolvers are always about digging into the soil for a logical proof about the state of a cell, any bloody cell, which will then reveal more information. A Matryoshka of puzzles: within each solved puzzle is a new impossible conundrum. And on you go, fighting through the fog of war, one cell at a time. Yet there’s always a point at which the puzzle buckles and delivers victory in a flash flood of revelation that is both cathartic and euphoric. Tametsi, however, is particularly resistant to speedy resolution: deep analysis is mandatory and it often has you interrogating hypotheses, hoping one of them will take you to a divine reductio ad absurdum.
The main issue I had with Hexcells Plus is that it introduced a local/aggregate hybrid type of information – the mine count within two cells – that just seemed designed to keep you busy. And mentally grinding through those possibilities was neither zen nor invigorating. Tametsi is aware of the grind in a tough minesolver and introduces a welcome, compensating measure: you can draw on the grid to keep track of your thoughts.
There’s a misstep, though. Tametsi allows you to choose the colour and brush size you draw with but doesn’t restrict your choice, so you never end up using exactly the same colour or size twice. You might wonder why you’d want a bigger brush, but erasing scribblings is a terrible chore if you don’t enlarge the brush. There are simple UI remedies here.
Tametsi suffers from the same problem that all minesolvers share, that making a mistake reveals information. The only fix is to go down the Picross/Sudoku route, dishing out all the information you need at the start – but then it wouldn’t be a minesolver any more.
I find Tametsi levels take me around an hour and this is why I still haven’t finished it. I do another level, now and again, just to keep my hand in. Just to have my own Miracle Sudoku moment. Tametsi has over a hundred of them.
Tametsi is currently available for Windows on Steam.
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You can also watch me explain how Tametsi plays in the video below.