EightyEight Games’s introspective puzzler Photographs is due out later this year for PC, iOS, and Android. In a demo, I saw how it uses minigames to tell its myriad tales.
Each of the chapters centers on one character. A series of puzzles correspond with their story, featuring mechanics that match what’s happening in the tale as it progresses. In the demo, I heard the story of The Alchemist — a kindhearted old man and his granddaughter.
The two have a very close relationship, and the puzzles reflect that. You move both characters at once through a little maze-like grid, occasionally using one character to help boost the other in the right direction. In a dark turn of fate, the little girl falls ill and the dynamic changes. The grandfather must begin protecting her from certain objects on the board.
Once you find a solution, you’re treated to a photograph and brief bit of narration. A diorama that represents the character’s life also changes — a floor is added to the house, for instance, or happy customers arrive at the Alchemist’s shop. The puzzles aren’t terribly difficult, but the story frames them in an appealing way. You get a lovely feeling of progression that gives context and meaning, which is rare in a puzzler like Photographs.
The game also features lovely pixel art from Octavi Navarro, who contributed artwork to Terrible Toybox’s point-and-click adventure Thimbleweed Park, and music by Ben Prunty, who composed the soundtrack to Subset Games’s FTL: Faster Than Light. Together, it’s a fun little package with enjoyable puzzles that doesn’t shy from tugging on your heartstrings.