Void Stranger

Void Stranger

released on Sep 01, 2023

Void Stranger

released on Sep 01, 2023

Void Stranger is a 2D sokoban-style puzzle game where every step counts. Descend into the forgotten labyrinth teeming with fiendish foes and traps that defy reason. A swift defeat lurks at every corner for those who neither study their surroundings nor think their moves through with care. Trust you wits and slowly, surely, you will conquer the mysteries before you. You do remember why you are here, right? Or have you lost something? Something very important to you.

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This game is really great in myriad ways--not least of all in the art direction and OST--and the only thing preventing it from being an instant favorite is the raw fatigue factor from spending 80 hours racking my brain over puzzles I was hardly qualified to solve in the first place. For a game that was already way out of my comfort zone from minute 0, I had a nice time.

one of the most absurd, memorable, unique games i've ever played

throughout the course of this definitely-basic-not-hiding-anything-at-all sokoban game, i jotted down 20 google-doc-pages worth of notes. at one point i was in photoshop for an hour assembling something. i feel like i've become a speedrunner, unwittingly. these puzzle halls are inscribed in the back of my mind. i literally had a dream about solving puzzles. the next night i had another.

in the vein of the witness, outer wilds, myst, rain world, knowledge of mechanics is the main obstacle here. overcovering the layers upon layers of how this game functions, and by extension, the game's diegetic world functions, feels incredibly rewarding. you'll retread a lot of ground but in new contexts, with new mastery, these halls start to feel both like new challenges to overcome and like old friends seen in a new light.

the story, equally esoteric, is also equally rewarding, with tons of lore to uncover and deep characters. the soundtrack is a banger, and the sprites have so much flair and care put into them.

you'll have to forgive me for not being too specific, because the joy of this game is absolutely in discovery. this is one of those impossible-to-truly-replay games. the passion of System Erasure here is incredibly evident, and when you think you've seen it all, there's always something more. get lost in the void already.

then feel the longing. ad meliora

This review contains spoilers

A genuinely unforgettable experience that really dragged on by the end. I may need to ruminate on this score for a bit but right now I feel sour on the last stretch of this game.

The first few hours were spectacular, where it felt like you frequently learning new things about the world, until you were ready to finish Gray's route unvoided. Lilith's route was a great hardmode that mixed up the existing puzzles and ended the story in a satisfactory way. After Lillith's route I felt the game's looping mechanic had outstayed it's welcome and alongside some puzzles that, if done incorrectly, would send you back to floor 1, it was a real fight for me to keep playing this one. Finishing Lilith's route should really give you some easier way to navigate the floors, it would've really helped alleviate the tedium.

By the time I got to DIS' lair and got the "true" ending, I felt I had spent far too long playing the same levels, even if there were ways to skip many of them. Each loop was giving me piecemeal in terms of new information to actually progress and I resorted to a guide for some puzzles that I think were just too obtuse for the average player to reasonably figure out on their own. New locations in Cif's route and finding DIS' lair were a lot of fun, but getting to them meant more of the same block pushing.

If this style of game appeals to you - an endless puzzle box of secrets - then Void Stranger has more than enough to get your fill, and it features some of the most satisfying "aha!" moments I've felt in a puzzle game. It's just, for me, this extreme length and depth of secrets left me with fatigue I don't often get with games. I could've done without a lot of the lore-focused segments, and the bosses felt like frustrating trial-and-error gauntlets in some cases. The devs may have made one of the most complex puzzle games of all time, but I don't think that's wholly a good thing.

The further out I get from Void Stranger, the more convinced I am that it's one of the best games of all time.

A game that I honestly wasn't expecting when my friends first mentioned and showed it to me; granted, I got in a little late, and it was a matter of excitement that drove me forward.

Overall, an extremely well-developed puzzle game with an outstanding story that very much rewards curiosity and thorough exploration.