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…
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: 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.
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.
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.
Watch the trailer for Zasa: An AI Story below: