Codex

Test your spatial logic reasoning skills! Collect the most Gold medals by solving the puzzle in the least amount of moves. This game supports music visualization for your own music tracks shared through Windows Media Connect and USB devices.

Codex tells me that the Dreamcast insignia makes a regular old tile a "fancy" tile. It's the kind of game I or the developer should submit to UK: Resistance seeing how the site loves the stuff. This really needs to be done, too, as Codex is a beautifully crafted puzzle game in which the player must arrange tiles into some pattern to advance. Tile shifting puzzles pre-date video games by several decades, and while Codex is hardly a 15 puzzle clone itself, it would be understandably overlooked due to the less than modern game design. However, that would be unfortunate as Codex's 30 puzzles are interesting and challenging in their own right and well worth looking into.

Players are graded on how quickly a solution is obtained, and medals are awarded which are displayed both in the local and global leaderboards included with the game. Tiles are moved by shifting the entire row or column in some unobstructed direction, a move which pushes one tile into the border. Shifting the rows and columns require such a free tile to be pushed into the tile grid, which then frees up another tile, and so on and so forth until the puzzle is solved. The game will sometimes place a dead title into the grid which blocks certain movements as they cannot be repositioned in any manner. Such dead tiles limit the available moves, forcing players to think around them for a solution. Puzzles are separated into groups of five, and the demo ends once the player has solved that fifth puzzle. Although 30 puzzles may not sound like much depending upon one's puzzle solving ability, the medals provide incentive for repeated plays, encouraging the player to seek a better solution.

A tile shifting puzzle game may sound like a beginner programming project, but Good Guy Robots have spared little expense in creating a profession level game. The menus are attractively designed, the frame around the tiles is wonderfully crafted, and I love how the background gears throb to the beat of the terrific orchestrated hip-hop score. Although the game looks and sounds terrific, the tiles themselves seem simplistic by comparison. They're far from being unattractive but do come across as bland next to all of the artwork and animation surrounding them. Given how few types of tiles are present in Codex, I would have loved to have seen some of the artistry on display throughout the game on the tiles as well, beyond the simple Dreamcast swirl which adorns the fancy tiles. Thankfully, it's a nitpicking observation which does not impact the game in any form, and Codex remains a terrific looking and playing puzzle game well worth playing.

I do have a feeling that the biggest challenge players will face in playing Codex is the "high" price of 240 points. Codex certainly deserves it -- it's a slick, well thought title that puzzle fans are sure to enjoy -- but Xbox Indies is a sea of worthwhile competition priced at 80 points, and I fear if Codex doesn't drown from the influx of new titles, its price might do it in. It would definitely be sad to see Codex lost in the flood, because it's exactly the kind of professional output we all demand from Xbox Indie game developers. I can't help but feel ashamed that I'm part of the problem here as I myself am passing on Codex in the short term, leaving it behind for a dry season when the Xbox Indie channel isn't drowning in other quality releases itself to steal the spotlight away.

★★★★☆
September 10, 2010
August 26, 2010 | 240 points
Developer | Video | Download

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