Mike Lee of United Lemur has some novel ideas about how to run a development shop; some call him a self-important charlatan, others think he’s on the up-and-up, but pretty much everyone agrees that he’s doing things differently. Well, Puzzllotto, United Lemur’s first “game,” is about as different as it gets. It’s a puzzle game with no title screen, no instructions, few discernible rules, an unknown goal, a funding commitment to a Lemur rescue charity, and up to $30,000 in prize money behind it. It’s not an unpleasant experience, but it’s definitely not what most players are looking for when they visit the Games section with $5 to burn.
Puzzllotto is really more of a test of your intelligence and patience than a game. It throws you right into a situation you know nothing about, and you either sink or swim. In the first part of the game, you’re facing a jungle scene where eight sets of glowing eyes blink at you from the shadows: three in the tree canopy, and five closer to the ground. Touching a pair of eyes reveals one of three animals. Butterflies flit down to the bottom of the screen, lining up in a way that suggests you’re supposed to collect a certain number of them. Lemurs make a cute noise and pop their head out of the brush; on occasion, if you touch them again, they’ll produce a butterfly. The fox-like creatures called Fosas growl menacingly and frighten all the other animals away, sending you back to square one.
There’s one correct path through this puzzle, as far as we can tell, and it takes a lot of trial and error to find it–pen and paper comes in very handy! Before long, you will find yourself wishing that the puzzle would reset instantly, instead of taking a few seconds. We won’t tell you what happens next, but it is equally weird. As always, if you make the wrong choice, or exit the game, it’s right back to the jungle for you, so you’d better hope you have your route written down. United Lemur has this to say about the game’s ending: “If you think you’ve solved Puzzllotto, you haven’t. When you solve Puzzllotto, you’ll know.” Thanks, guys.
Puzzllotto has a pleasant presentation, even though there’s very little movement or animation. It gets extra points for stellar sound design, too; the ambient jungle noises were apparently recorded on-site, so they are very realistic. It makes you want to put on your headphones, close your eyes, and bliss out for a while.
The best analogy for Puzzllotto might be the legend of The Sword in the Stone. If you think you’re the Chosen One, or if you like inscrutable, half-mystical riddles, go for it. If not, this game is just going to frustrate you, and you’ll be better off spending your $5 on actual lottery tickets.