Review – Zasa: An AI Story

Review – Zasa: An AI Story
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Platforms:

Windows PC, Steam

Game Name:

Zasa: An AI Story

Publisher(s):

Rainssong

Developer(s):

Rainssong

Genre(s):

Puzzle

Release Date:

March 20th, 2016

Zasa: An AI Story – What We Think:

Many puzzle games try to combine an interesting story with innovative puzzles – to mixed result. Zasa: An AI Story is a puzzle game where the story does manage to add something extra. Though the presence of “story” in its title had me worried at first, a great many hours later, I am convinced that it actually works in this puzzle game. But let’s start from the beginning, because if you pick up Zasa: An AI Story, it will be because you need to scratch that puzzling itch…

Zasa game screenshot 2
If you have ever done a children’s connect-the-dots puzzle, you will feel at home with Zasa: An AI Story. In the game, you have a cube that has been flattened out; your objective is to draw a picture on one or more sides of the cube to match your assigned picture.

Draw Distance

While this might seem like no big deal, there are certain rules to the drawing which demand a lot of thinking and/or trial-and-error. The twist, is that while you draw on the cube flattened out in 2D, the assigned picture on the cube is in 3D, meaning you will have to think of it in those terms. This twist really got me hooked.

Zasa game screenshot 4
Additional rules prevent you from jumping between dots, meaning you will have to draw your object in one stroke. Added to this is the rule that you cannot draw lines where other ones already exist. While other games use similar rules with similar puzzles, the twist of a 3D cube which you can also rotate later on opens up new possibilities for much more innovative levels.

Zasa: An AI Story also comes with a good hint system that lets you keep a certain flow: even if hints really should be used as a last minute resort, they are given to you in a way that still lets you solve the challenges. The hints are also useful if you want your brain teased while still following the story without any other hiccups.

Zasa game screenshot 5

Starry Starry Night

I really do enjoy the simple to execute and yet very complex puzzles that Zasa offers. The visuals also help make the puzzles more enjoyable; a soft blue starry background connects to the story but still lets you fully focus on the cube at hand.

As to the game’s story, it’s an interesting one that actually works: the story of an artificial intelligence – told through short interludes between most of the puzzles and in some cases during the puzzles themselves – imparted a sense of wonder and intrigue.

Going too much into the story will spoil it for you given how few lines of narrative indication there are, though I will say it is a story that relies on your imagination and interpretation. You play as an AI who is just learning the ropes of what you can do, and the way to learn is by going forward with the puzzles at hand. It isn’t Asimov, let alone Tolstoy, but it enriches the experience somewhat.

In fact all the pieces of the game help create an atmosphere that works within the context. The soundtrack is a soft, soothing, unobtrusive accompaniment when you are focusing on the puzzles, but takes a more bombastic approach during certain sequences.

zasa

Intelligent, Artificial or Not

If you are looking for a puzzle game with ideas you might have encountered before in real life or one that manages to weave story, puzzles and music together, this is the game for you. Zasa: An AI Story is a rather generic and boring name given that the game itself is interesting and unique.

Zasa: An AI Story is available via Steam.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Watch the trailer for Zasa: An AI Story below:

Karl de Maré

A Swede whom likes to play unique games, do research about how gaming affects young peoples political literacy, and who work on his own small and unique game in the spare time.

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