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Wordplay with word fragments, February 7, 2019
by SpikeDream Pieces 2 consists of a series of wordplay-based puzzles. There is a story, but it's light, and it's clearly only there to give some kind of a frame to the puzzles. (Which is fine with me - I've written a game like that myself.)
In each room in Dream Pieces 2 you are given a few objects. By breaking the objects into their component letters or word fragments you can rearrange them to make new words that will help you escape that room. For example, in the first room you are given a HORSE and a DONKEY. Breaking these two objects gives you an H, an OR, an SE, a DO, an N, a KE, and a Y to play with to make new words. The game interestingly calls these letters and word fragments "Legos," although they're not the kinds of Legos my kids play with.
It's a really neat idea (wordplay at its most basic, I suppose), and I enjoyed Dream Pieces 2. It felt kind of like playing Scrabble - the way you're constantly reordering the letters and word fragments and then seeing if the result makes sense.
I did find the puzzles somewhat frustrating at times. I think it's because there are so many ways to rearrange the letters but only a small number give you actual words. So you rarely have that experience with complicated but well-designed parser puzzles of being rewarded for making partial progress. For the most part, in Dream Pieces 2 you either figure out the solution, or you don't. I say "for the most part" because if you create something that is part of what's needed for that room, the game generally gives you a message about that object, which is helpful. Still, the sheer number of possible ways to arrange the word fragments is so large that the vast majority of the time you're not getting feedback. I don't know how to solve this problem, as it seems inherent in the kind of wordplay the game presents.
However, Dream Pieces 2 does provide hints for each room, as well as an explicit walkthrough for each room. These are quite helpful and ameliorate the problem I mentioned in the previous paragraph.
I could have used little more guidance at the beginning about how to make the objects in the game interact with each other. For example, I was confused in the first room because (Spoiler - click to show)I had made a key and a door, but it took me a while to figure out how to get them to interact in the right way. I kept trying to select the key and use it on the door. But USE wasn't an option. PUT was the closest option, but that didn't make sense - and it didn't work. It took me a little while to realize I needed to TAKE the key and then OPEN the door - the game automatically using the key on the door if I'm carrying it.
In general, it might be nice to have more user-friendly features like Ailihphilia has, although those might be hard to implement in the Quest system.
Overall, though, I enjoyed the wordplay puzzles in Dream Pieces 2. My ten-year-old son played through some of them and enjoyed them as well.
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