Induction is about meeting your past self and tricking them into solving puzzles for you. Assuming you’re a small, monochrome cube and time travel is simpler than working an elevator. I lied, though. Time travel is still very, very complicated.
Like most good puzzle games, there is no story to be had here. Just a nested series of simple mechanisms which grow more tangled and unsettling as you go. This has been a difficult game to review. Every time I sit down to write about it, I end up going back to the game instead. I’m always certain that another few minutes, or an hour, will yield better results. Perhaps another look will unlock the secret to the next fiendish stage. Induction boasts over 50 levels on the Steam page. I have my sincere doubts I’ll ever finish all of them. This won’t stop me from trying, however. Likely at the expense of any productive energy I had saved up for that particular day.
“Induction delivers on all fronts, and it’s absolutely essential to the play experience.”
Presentation is critical in a good puzzle game. You need a proper aesthetic in order to soothe any mounting frustration that creeps in. Calm music, relaxing graphics and satisfying sound effects are essential. Induction delivers on all fronts, and it’s absolutely essential to the play experience. I can’t help but wonder what kind of damage I’d have done to my desk and/or walls had this game not been so soothing to see and hear. Every movement of your little cube feels good. The sight and sound of time being manipulated is a perfect fit. Every time you create a paradox the whole color scheme of the level changes. It’s a helpful mechanic that also looks delightful.
So. Time travel. Somehow, explaining the systems in place here is almost as complicated as actually traveling through time. Let’s say you have to cross a bridge. There’s a switch that extends it across a chasm. So you press the switch. But as soon as you move, the bridge disappears. Big problem, right? So, you create a paradox where your past self and you exist in the same general space. Then, while past you is walking over to the switch to extend the bridge, present you hops off and waits for him to hop on. Then, while past you is hanging out on the switch, present you crosses the bridge and completes the stage. Simple, right? All of the movies and stories about time travel are adamant about you never interacting with your past/future self. Not Induction! This game demonstrates that paradoxes don’t have to be a terrifying, reality-shredding nightmare. They can also be used to solve fun little puzzles. Neat!
“Every success makes you feel smart, but uneasy, like you just broke some causality laws. This is, of course, because you did.”
I mentioned earlier that I haven’t finished this game. This is partially due to my puzzle-based ineptitude. I needed a lot of help to finish Portal 2, and I never really got through the first one. So I couldn’t tell you exactly how difficult Induction is, on the grand scale of puzzle games. I can tell you that I spent an hour agonizing over every solution after stage 15. Every success makes you feel smart, but uneasy, like you just broke some causality laws. This is, of course, because you did. The first time I finished a really tough level I couldn’t process what I’d just seen. This, in spite of the fact that I was the one who caused it to happen. Induction is crazy hard, but immensely satisfying. The game will also leave you feeling somewhat insane.
At least with Portal, you could rest the agency of the situation on your wacky future gun. Here, with no toys between you and temporal chaos, you don’t have the same luxury. My only real complaint regarding difficulty is that eventually the new systems in place start getting wildly esoteric. The game is light on tutorials, which I understand. Half the challenge is figuring out that you can even do some of the insane things the game expects of you. The problem is that further progression breeds ever stranger tools. Eventually you will need a day or two between levels, just to process whatever new power you’ve been bestowed. I applaud and envy the mental fortitude of whoever chooses to finish this game in a sitting. Their powers far exceed my own.
“You will do things that make you feel like a genius just for thinking of them.”
This isn’t the sort of game you can do justice with a skeletal little summary of its roiling inner organs. When I saw the trailer I was bored. Who wants to roll a cube around for fun? I didn’t see the hook. Sitting down to play it I was immediately pulled in. The systems at play are simple to use while rattling your brain stem with their inherent potential. Induction quickly pushes these tools to their logical limits and beyond. You will do things that make you feel like a genius just for thinking of them. Sometimes these things will scare you a bit for the same reason. This is normal. My advice to those interested in this game is to free up several hours after your initial install. Induction may not look it, but this is a game that will scramble your timeline as freely as its own.
***A PC code was provided by the publisher***
- Genius level design
- Clean graphics
- Excellent mechanics
- Standard puzzle game frustration
- Light on tutorial
- Madness stemming from time travel