Stephen[Lavelle]'s Sausage Roll


#1

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/271017/Simple_but_incredibly_filling_Devs_weigh_in_on_Stephens_Sausage_Roll.php

It's $30 on Steam and is a puzzle game based on a never changing set of simple rules, but apparently does a deep dive into those mechanics.

While impressive from a design standpoint these pure puzzlers are not usually my favorite type. Anybody tried it yet?


Bargain Thread 2017
The Puzzle Games Thread
#2

Idle Thumbs covered it this week. Apparently it’s extremely hard. But I have’t played it.


#3

I heard that Jonathan Blow praised Stephen’s sausage roll.

-Todd


#4

His English Country Tune was a brain-melter, but very impressive in terms of how it built on a set of simple rules. I hope this does well because Lavelle (he was known for years as “increpare” in the indie game scene) is one of those great experimenters in video games and gave a lot of his work away for free for years. I’m also not sure if this kind of game is for me, but I’m glad he’s making this kind of thing.


#5

There’s a thread over at Neogaf about this game and people are complementing the heck out of it. It seems you’re thrown into it with no explanation and you have to suss out the mechanics. It’s getting a lot of positive buzz over there.


#6

Yeah, he would. The witness is a great example of the same simple set of rules taken to great lengths. Or beaten like a dead horse if you are not feeling generous.

$30 is quite a bit for what I suspect is similar to the witness. I think I would like the Talos principle much more but I have yet to buy it. Next sale for sure.


#7

I probably fall into the beaten like a dead horse crowd, but I am glad these games exist for those that love them.

-Todd


#8

I picked this up since it was finally on a (small) discount. Some impressions after about three hours:

The core mechanism is very clever, but fairly dry. Even some of the early puzzles are really hard, despite a really small state space. I’m staring at one monstrosity on the second island, and have no idea of how to even begin solving it.

The game really doesn’t explain or teach anything. Not even how to start a puzzle level. Let along how to win one. Better stumble around random levels randomly until one is declared solved. How do the physics work? Not explained; my understanding of that has already changed multiple times. I don’t know if you can even get off the first island without doing moves you fully expect to fail just to see whether they work after all. This is absolutely lovely, just like it was in the Witness. Though I’m sure some people won’t like it.

The grainy low-poly style is doing nothing for me, hasn’t been used in any particularly clever way so far, and occasionally obscures information in a non-interesting way. (I.e. I know the state of some game piece, but it’s temporarily hidden from view so I need to remember it rather than be able to see it).

There’s also some other design conceits where things are a lot more clunky than I’d like, and nothing interesting has been done with them. I’m guessing that’ll change at a later point, but already I feel e.g. that I’ve wasted a lot more time than I care in the overworld, no matter what they do with it later.

The game is crashing for me about every 10-15 minutes on two separate computers. Though that’s on Linux, can’t imagine they’d release it if the game was that unstable on Windows.

I’m finding it hard to recommend this over The Witness or Snakebird right now. But I’ll certainly put some more time into this if I can sort out the technical issues.


#9

Technical issues solved, but the “Great Tower” puzzle of the second island might have broken me. It seems like horrible design. Basically all other puzzles on the island were exploring a specific new mechanism. This puzzle had basically nothing to do with it. Instead it introduced a totally new and unrelated twist, in the worst way possible

The new twist is not taught to the player the way these games would normally do it, with puzzles designed to highlight the new aspects individually. This one just introduces it in a totally messy and freeform way. “Here’s a new game mechanic with a dozen different implications. Go ahead and try to figure all of them out at once, as well as which of those dozen subtle points you’re actually supposed to exploit”.

The puzzle is also an order of magnitude larger than anything before it. (There’s 8 sausages on it, while the average puzzle has two. And they interact way more with each other than the sausages on other puzzles do). The logistics of my solution were so messy and so ad hoc that I doubt I could solve the puzzle again without spending at least half the time rewinding. I watched a few Youtube videos of that level, and only saw one person solve it in a principled and elegant manner.

And as a final insult, the structure of the game is to have an island of puzzles which you can solve in any order, but you need to solve 100% of them before moving to the next island. So not only is this totally unreasonable puzzle blocking access to the endgame or 100% completion; it’s blocking access to any gameplay at all. There’s not an option to go and solve something else and return back to this.

I just don’t get it. It’s like some kind of bullshit puzzle machismo from the designer. “Only the worthy may play this game, and you’re not worthy”. So now I have a full island of new puzzles to explore, and have very little desire to do so.


#10

It’s interesting that you mention the completion mechanics. I purchased one of his earlier games on the iPad, English Country Tune I think it is. And the completion mechanics are similar. You have a couple of puzzles to choose from but you have to complete all of the ones in that group to unlock more. It’s incredibly frustrating when you get stuck on something and basically have to bang your head against it until you get it done. Or in my case, watching YouTube videos!

It definitely ramps up the frustration factor.


#11

The third and fourth islands were very good. Neither introduced any new mechanisms beyond those already introduced in the “Great Tower” puzzle I mentioned above. They just exploit those mechanisms very cleverly (and exhaustively). Almost all of the puzzles are small (2-3 sausages) and with a short critical path, but a lot of them were still extremely non-obvious. The 3D element is definitely starting to pay off.

Entering the fifth island, I was thinking that there was probably no way the game could introduce a new twiss without also adding new components (and thus compromising the purity of the design). But I should still have quite a lot of game remaining. So I start first level of the island and within 15 seconds my mind is blown. Such an obvious change in retrospect, but I don’t know if would ever have thought of it myself. Also, way more than I want to deal with right now.


#12

The fifth island was just delicious, Can’t say I’ve ever seen better puzzle design in any game. There’s something funny about how the levels work here. There’s no misdirection at all, no unnecessary elements. Every level has parts that are practically screaming at the player “look, look, this is a strange feature of the map, make use of it in the solution”. And still it takes me half an hour to actually process the blindingly obvious hint.

I’ve easily got my money’s worth from SSR by now, anyone who likes hard puzzle games should consider picking this up.

The bad news is that I’ve had a peek at the sixth island. Looks like I’m due for a long linear sequence, with just one puzzle accessible at a time. That’ll really suck if true. It’s not even about frustration, it’s just that at some point you get into a rut with a puzzle and need to switch to another one to clear the field. It’s been common that I beat my head against a puzzle for a long time, give up, do a couple of other puzzles, return back to the problematic one, and solve it in a minute.


#13

How did I almost miss this game? Played it last night and it seems like 2016’s best puzzle game.


#14

I’m so unbelievably stuck on one of the puzzles on the second island. Hilariously enough it’s not the tower of sausage puzzle jsnell was stuck on, which I found relatively straightforward, it’s a much simpler looking puzzle. I’ve been staring at it for hours and am no closer to solving it than when I started.


#15

REALLY??? REALLLY??? That’s it? Damn it.


#16

I spent about 90 minutes with this last night and solved exactly one puzzle. I’m not sure yet whether I’m missing something about the basic mechanics/rules, or if I’m just plain terrible at it.


#17

Well both probably? I’ve had puzzles that took me hours with them up on one screen while I did something on the other screen.

I’m on the last few puzzles of island four, and I can say with certainty that Stephen’s Sausage Roll is one of the finest puzzle games ever made.

There’s a couple of specific things. I’ve not once felt that my time was wasted, every puzzle does something unique. The mechanics are so simple there’s nothing to learn, except that there’s clever subtleties that will first drive you nuts and then make you feel like a genius. And the variety of puzzles he gets out of one very simple set of mechanics is incredible.


#18

Spent another hour on this last night and managed to double my completion count by solving a second puzzle. I really want to like this, but maybe it just isn’t for me.

I think I’ll check out a few videos of solutions to see if I’m missing something about the mechanics, but if not I think I’m done.


#19

The mechanics clicked for me last night and I ended up solving five or so more puzzles, but I think I may be ready to put this down–unless there really is something more to this? Are there any new mechanics on this first island?


#20

The game keeps adding more mechanics. Stay with it!