Didgery is the definition of a casual puzzle game in many ways. It’s relatively simple, only has two gameplay modes, features no graphical flairs to speak of, and can be mastered in a few minutes. This makes Didgery a game that is small in scope compared to many puzzle titles out on the market today.
There is not much else to say really, as developer Lotus Games did solid work on Didgery as a puzzle title. The biggest problem the game faces is ultimately the attention span of potential customers. Despite some flairs here and there to make Didgery interesting, the game works best as an on-the-go puzzle title; the kind of game you'd play on the commute to work every morning.
People will get what they bargain for here, which in the end is a form of spiritual solitaire. The mechanics of Didgery are simple; make chains of suited playing cards counting down, from King to Ace, to score big points. In between, you can change suits by matching the same numbered cards to make larger chains, or use special unlocked cards to help build those chains as well.
That is pretty much all you need to know to ‘win’ at Didgery, although winning is a loose use of the word. Didgery has two modes of play, the casual Zen mode, and the more hardcore Nightmare Mode. Zen mode is just playing the game at your leisure, with no real instance of failure attached to it. It lives up to its name, the perfect mode to simply zone out on and relax for a bit before something heavy.
This does get monotonous, as the puzzle mechanics never really have much of a challenge in Zen mode other than how big your chain is. To spice things up, Didgery does have two things to do in Zen mode, unlocking special power cards, and unlocking the game's storyline. The power cards are simple, including things like teleport cards, wild cards and the like to help create larger and more complex chains. There are a few powers but they are varied enough to keep Zen mode mildly interesting.
The story cards, on the other hand, are the main attraction for Zen mode. While playing Didgery, you begin to unlock scrolls with high card chains on the board, which in turn gives you snippets of the game's backstory. It is the standard affair of good vs evil, a rivalry between two gods (Didgery and Axia) over the dominion of the Earth. The story itself is reminiscent of spiritual verse, mimicking the story beats of Paradise Lost and Dantes Inferno but never reaching their heights of artistic wordplay.
It also gives Didgery a spiritual edge to it, utilizing simplistic imagery stereotypical of the ‘good vs evil struggle’ that the player ultimately engages in. Nightmare mode showcases this well, it is a score chaser mode that has you building chains as quickly as possible to hold back the evil god Axia. The mode offers a fair challenge to players, and for the more hardcore puzzle freaks out there it is a good distraction to go on.
A lot of the game's design tries to focus on this spiritual nature. The background of the world is heavenly, with soft clouds floating in the distance. The music is a collection of short piano pieces, somewhat melancholy in their composition but always full of hope. Sound effects when completing large chains give off the impression of holy chanting, and the use of poorly superimposed images of skulls and hands, and camera filters attempt to add tension in Nightmare mode as the player begins to fade away.
The spiritual context is quite good for Didgery, but outside of unlocking the story or giving you a backdrop and some design choices, the game does little with it. Slowly unlocking the history behind the two deity’s is a very passive experience, almost mindless in the grand scheme of the game's mechanics. The mechanics themselves offer little depth in strategy, other than trying to manipulate cards to form larger chains. Despite the gameplay itself being solid, there is just not much to it compared to other puzzle titles out there. Graphically the simplicity helps, but it comes across as gaudy compared to other small titles.
Didgery is, at its core, a game of spiritual solitaire. It is the perfect pick up and play experience, offering enjoyment in short bursts with its easy to learn puzzle mechanics. It uses similar mechanics to solitaire with a twist to it, and its story and backdrop are superfluous to the mechanics themselves. Still, Didgery is a small game, so harping on the depth and meager shortcoming is kind of superfluous.
In the end, you can do a lot worse for a game of this scope. Didgery is a solid enough title where its own faults are really the game's strengths when you place it in context. For casual puzzle fans and score chasers, Didgery is well worth a look. Just don’t expect to be enthralled by the game for hours on end.
Didgery was reviewed on PC via Steam with a code provided by the publisher. It was originally released on Xbox Live Indie Games.
Despite some flairs here and there to make Didgery interesting, the game works best as an on-the-go puzzle title; the kind to play on the commute to work every morning.(Review Policy)
- Solid Puzzle Mechanics...
- Two Gameplay Modes...
- Interesting Spiritual Subtext...
- ...Lacks Depth Overall.
- ...Little Variety in Both Modes.
- ...That Ultimately Provides Little for the Game.