Inspired by TikTok videos that endlessly loop around that give off that satisfying vibe, Meaningless is a game which lets you watch your puzzle solutions loop endlessly when you complete a level. You’ll be able to watch at 3x speed too, complete with VHS filter to get your quirky art kicks. It’s a decent idea but the puzzles you need to solve to get your reward is the meat and potatoes of the game.
In Meaningless you are trying to aim a ball into its exit portal and you do this by clicking on it to set it in perpetual motion. Well, until it hits an uphill turn or a block. If the ball stops moving, all its colour and energy fades and you’ll need to restart. The game is split into four chapters and each plays with a certain game mechanic. Chapter 1 for example, is all about moving purple hazy blocks to create platforms for the ball to roll through. Each click on a block moves it forward a frame in motion so whilst some blocks go back and forth, others may have up to 10 frames of animation. Chapters 2 and 3 explore different block types. Some blocks have hinges so rotate around a pivot and some have different properties like bounce pads that ping your ball elsewhere. Sometimes levels are about clearing obstacles to get a clear run at the exit too.
Initially these levels are very simple but in the second half of the game it will take a bit of trial and error to work out the answer. This is largely because Meaningless brings in timing based moves where one click moves multiple objects or triggers a moving platform so you need to time a launch pad jump carefully. Others may resemble pachinko machines where you’ll need to rotate blocks and understand the flow of the games physics too. This is made a little trickier by the games isometric viewpoint. Sometimes you think you’ve lined up a move nicely only to see you aren’t lined up at all and your ball flies off the screen.
I rarely got stuck playing on the relaxed mode of the game and was able to clear the game in around 90 minutes. There is then a scored mode and this was where I started to get confused. You are awarded medals against how many moves you’ve made to solve the puzzle but sometimes I couldn’t see how you’d be able to get gold at all. I found it a bit stressful trying to find ways to break the standard logical way to skip moves and tonally it didn’t match the rest of the satisfying vapourwave vibe. Puzzle fiends will no doubt enjoy this mode more though and clearly I’m missing something here that just wasn’t an issue in the relaxed mode.
My main problems with Meaningless were that the levels often felt to easy and too many of them solved themselves. The difficulty curve is like an audio wave, not an uphill curve and most of the time I was stuck, it wasn’t because I didn’t know what to do, it was because the camera perspective wasn’t helpful for a timed move. There’s nothing particularly wrong with Meaningless, it just didn’t grab my attention for too long or leave a long lasting impression either. Maybe it took its TikTok vapourwave ideas to heart as they are easy come, easy go too. A vibe, but a brief and hazy one.
Review copy provided by developer. Out 12th July on Steam.
Simple but also lacking a little depth, Meaningless is an enjoyable bite sized morsel of puzzling but it won't leave much of a mark afterwards.
The VHS satisfying post completion part of Meaningless is well put together.
Nice vapourwave crossed with Monument Valley artstyle.
Simple control scheme makes it easy to pick up and play.
Viewing perspective sometimes gets in the way of completing levels.
Difficulty curve is low and inconsistent with the first half of the game feeling like a tutorial for the final chapters.
The game plays itself too often.
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