Experimental games are THE thing that excites me most in the entire industry. Yes, I love to play an awesome sequel from a established franchise that is perfect in every way, of course. But nothing compares of encountering a new premise and going with it until the end, even if isn't perfect like everything we try for the first time. The Scrolling Enigma, made exclusively for the Playdate by the French team Lugludum, is a perfect example of this type of game, building from escape room common places in a tiny but interesting crank-focused title.

As you may expect, you don't have a room to escape of in The Scrolling Enigma. Instead, you have an infinite newspaper that you can scroll through using the Playdate's crank. Every section is, actually, a puzzle to be solved used the different inputs of the device, and getting all the keys at the end of each enigma is necessary to finish the last puzzle. The complexity of those puzzles varies over a wide range — some I solved by accident by toying with the Playdate, but one of them got me thinking for 10+ minutes. An extra bit of general gaming knowledge can also help.

The Scrolling Enigma

The trick on the whole "scrolling" situation is that, although the newspaper loops itself, every time you get back to the start of the page, new hints are unlocked to the puzzles you didn't solve yet. It's interesting that it uses the scrolling concept for different purposes, but I would have loved, though, to have received a warning (or a indication) that the "end" of the page was coming... In my first time scrolling, I got hints by accident because I cranked too much (ops).

The themes in each section of the newspaper are also metaphors about game development in general, like search for funding and motivation. The Scrolling Enigma succeeds on being exactly what its subtitle suggests: an allegoric game development diary, showing some dilemmas that the Lugludum team (and all of us devs, actually) encountered when creating games. There isn't a lot of depth to those subjects, but it's a nice way to round up thematically so many different puzzles.

The Scrolling Enigma is far from a perfect game, but it's too interesting to let it pass by. Some of the puzzles are really clever, the scrolling mechanic can be a perfect structure for future titles, and the experience doesn't drag itself more than it should. Depending on the amount of hints you got, you can finish the game in 40-50 minutes — the game doesn't save progress, so I recommend finding a free hour to dive in at once. My feeling at the end was that I wanted more, so I think we have the start of something special in this experimental success.

The team behind this game sent me a press key so I could play it and write my review. Thanks for the trust!