29 people found this review helpful
Recommended
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 14.4 hrs on record (12.7 hrs at review time)
Posted: Oct 10, 2020 @ 3:53pm
Updated: Oct 12, 2020 @ 6:44am
Product received for free

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Zof is an excellent exposition in abstract puzzle making that uses simple logic but still keep the player wandering around like a headless chicken most of the time. The puzzles present within this game are all straight forward, once you know what to do. The most difficult part of solving each puzzle is understanding the logic within. Thus there's nothing really all that complex about the puzzles, but you still have to think long and hard about each of the clues given.

There are no words in this game to tell you any of the rules. Each puzzle is self-contained in individual levels. Occasionally a couple of puzzles are linked, but for the most part, each one is separate and distinct. Some are really very obvious and easy, while others require a lot of running around each level to try to make mental patterns and sequences. It's nice that you do not have carry clues across multiple levels for solving, because otherwise it would get more complex. The simplicity of the individual puzzles with yet mind-boggling logic is what makes this game really great.

Do expect yourself to progress through some of the puzzles through trial and error at what small mechanisms and clues are present in each puzzle. Don't be afraid to push buttons, pull levers, look at color/physical clues or listen for sound hints. Remember to look up and down sometimes and also to think outside of the box. All of this sounds nonsensical but once you get to playing the game, you will understand what I mean.

The beginning of the game involves going around different islands and solving puzzles contained within. These puzzles are not linked and can be solved in any order. In these logic-heavy no-explanation games having the choice of looking at all of the puzzles given and trying to make heads and tails of them is important. I was really overwhelmed at first and didn't know where to start, gradually I picked up more and more clues and pretty soon I was in a good rhythm of careful scrutiny with heavy anticipation.

Anyway, I do have to point you to the developer's official hints guide that is available on Steam. This is probably the best tool to use if you are truly stuck on a puzzle. The answers are revealed gradually with progressive hints that you can help yourself to go as far as needed to get mental traction, and then you are welcome to solve the rest by yourself. I had a lot of facepalm moments after figuring out some simple logic, but I was really happy to actually make my way to that point. Those aha moments are so important for puzzle-solving and so gratifying to reach.

Controls
Controller or Mouse + Keyboard. The game actually lets you program your extra mouse buttons and only play with the mouse if that's your desire. I did just walk around with WASD and use the mouse for looking around, pointing and clicking.

Graphics
The levels have their unique and simplistic charm. A few levels clearly took way more effort to construct than others, but the overall aesthetic of the game is very pleasing.

Music & Sounds
Not a lot in the way of music, but you can easily supplement with any music of your choice in the background. There are places where the sounds are important to pay attention to though, so make sure you have your sounds on while playing, even if you don't want to listen to anything.

Audience
People who enjoy abstract puzzle solving will definitely have a blast with this game. It's not difficult in any sense, but the game does make you think a lot, and gives those really satisfying lit-bulbs mentally.

Pricing
I can see a lot of people shying away from this game because of the price. $24.99 is a bit hefty not because of the content in this game but because of what else you can buy and play for that price. The puzzles are really fun though, and so hopefully at the asking price or on a sale later, you will feel an inclination to try it out. I am close to the end, so I anticipate finishing in a few more hours, but who knows? (Addendum: The rest of the game wrapped up rather quickly for me once I got past a hurdle, total time spent: just shy of 14.5 hours. Of course the expected time will definitely vary from player to player.)

Conclusion
Zof is a true indie game with a sole developer. It's also a gem that's worth your time and the brain cells that you will activate in piecing it all together. It's a bit pricey but the quality of the game is definitely there. Expect to lose yourself in this game for a while, should you dive in.

Score: 9/10

PS: The developer is super active on the forums, so if you have any questions, he's likely the one to answer you before any players will. Talk about dedication and love for the game.

I received the product for free. I did not receive any compensation to write this review. The opinions represented here are entirely my own and were not influenced in any way.
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5 Comments
YQMaoski Oct 13, 2020 @ 6:26am 
I do worry about the game in terms of sales and people's interests due to the higher-than-expected price. I would love to see this game take off and do well, at the same time, the price will put a lot of people and the game might get buried instead. I think at half of the asking price, it would sell more than double the copies likely, hopefully a sale price comes up that's more suitable for you soon. And you are very welcome. :-)
ready2b Oct 13, 2020 @ 3:02am 
This doesn't sound like a game I would usually get into but you definitely intrigued me with this review. Given that this was developed by one person, I am even more impressed by how visually astounding it looks. Might pick it up when it goes on sale.
Thanks for the review!
YQMaoski Oct 10, 2020 @ 4:47pm 
@FruitNDoggie, maybe it's just me. I took over an hour on some puzzle each, just wandering around trying to locate clues and figure out what to do. There are not a ton of puzzles.

@janner66, I have played The Witness, also an excellent game, and yeah, I can see some similarities, but each has its own charm.

Thanks for reading, both of you. :-)
janner66 Oct 10, 2020 @ 4:44pm 
Have you played The Witness? Is it more along those lines. I didn't really get along with that one and this one sounds similar.

Thanks for the review.
FruitNDoggie Oct 10, 2020 @ 4:24pm 
I'm impressed that it's so long when I thought the game would be shorter. The price is definitely high though.