Sawbuck Gamer

Naya's Quest

Optical Delusion

Naya’s Quest pulls back the curtain on one of gaming’s oldest magic tricks.

By Joe Keiser • September 25, 2013

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap game ($10 or less).

There was once a time when video games wanted to be 3D but couldn’t, because they were running on the modern computing equivalent of a bus pass. Instead, they used tricks of the eye. One, borrowed from technical drafting, was isometric projection—an askew, overhead view that kinda, sorta gave objects in the game body and depth.

But games presented this way almost never felt like they were providing the detail of an engineering blueprint. Instead, they caused blood-boiling confusion. Naya’s Quest takes that anger and owns it. Every problem caused by this vantage point becomes a puzzle to be solved. You’ve got a scanner that shows a slice of the world as it looks when free from the tortures of the isometric perspective. Reconcile the two images, and you’ll find a path through the game where up is not always up, and empty space isn’t always so empty. It will look like a glitch, but it’s outside the game—a glitch where the optic nerve meets the brain. Naya’s Quest is a playable Penrose stairs, then, and while it’s reminiscent of a tech-deficient game style best left to the past, its introspection makes a good argument for this one final visit.

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13 Responses to “Optical Delusion”

  1. PaganPoet says:

    Awww, the isometric view. How easy would have Solstice and Equinox have been if not for isometric optical illusions causing you to fall on spikes?

  2. psib says:

    Im a huge sucker for Isometric games. All those years of playing qbert and crystal castles rubbed off on me…

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      I created Populous fanart before playing it.  Loved the graphics…the game itself was disappointing.  (Classic Schmolyneux!)

  3. duwease says:

    Incredibly clever.. and then even tweaks its own clever formula later, once you’ve finally figured out the tricks and have gotten used to it.  This could probably be a full-fledged phone/tablet game if the later gameplay ideas were stretched over several rooms.. I know I was left wanting more.

    Did anyone see what made New Game+ different?  I tried it for a short while and didn’t see anything.

  4. stakkalee says:

    This is a great little puzzle game.  My only problem is with the accompanying text appearing diagonally – it takes me a moment to readjust and read the words, and I’m sometimes too slow in adjusting so I miss some of the plot.  Otherwise, fun and devious.

  5. stepped_pyramids says:

    Terry Cavanagh is awesome. If there was any justice, he’d be getting the worshipful press coverage Jonathan Blow got.

  6. zzyzazazz says:

    A fun puzzle game, but I got frustrated and quit because of the goddamn lives.

  7. TheSingingBrakeman says:

    Wow, this is truly fabulous. What a wonderful treat. Didn’t quite get the ending, but I guess it’s really just an excuse for a cool series of puzzles.