A fascinating little game that suffers from a few minor hiccups, Situation Shuffle is a unique puzzle experience. It’s rare to come across a game that feels truly fresh and new, but Situation Shuffle actually fills that description quite nicely, despite a somewhat uneven polish.
Each level in this engagingly illustrated game is set up like a mixed-up story board. Put in the proper order, the pictures will tell a simple story, but they start out in a jumble, and you are left to piece together the order from what are often very subtle clues. Tiny details, like the absence or inclusion of a necklace, will clue you in to the flow of the images, and you’ll feel a little bit like Sherlock Holmes or a CSI trying to keep track of them all.
Each level comes with 6 different images, and while the cute, hand drawn illustrations are kid-friendly and cartoony, I found more than a couple of these levels quite challenging. They’re not as simple as you might think, and in some cases, the levels can be quite confusing and frustrating as you struggle to determine the picture progression. Thankfully, there are hints available to nudge you along in the right direction, but while the pictures are premise are all kid-friendly, adults will likely also find this game a real challenge.
After each level, there is also a special bonus round, which has you arranging pictures according to some particular criteria. For example, you might start with a mixed-up selection of animals, and you want to arrange them all from fastest to slowest. Although they’re a light diversion, these bonus rounds feel considerably less charming and a little more uneven than the regular levels.
The game also suffers from minor localization issues, as it’s clear that English is not the first language for the game. For example, at the very start, a very minimalist tutorial only serves to highlight a glaring typo, and much of the text in the game feels awkwardly phrased thanks to uneven translation. Other details, like the use of kilometres and the 24:00:00 clock in illustrations betray the fact that this game was not intended for American audiences. Ordinarily, these kinds of minor details wouldn’t matter much at all, but in a game that relies entirely on the details, they occasionally distract and confuse, particularly if kids are playing.
Thankfully, the game is mostly text free, and these issues only crop up very occasionally, but it was one of the few noticeable flaws in an otherwise delightful game. Aside from that, I found Situation Shuffle to be a surprisingly engaging treat, one very well worth checking out for those in search of a fresh puzzle game.
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