Tametsi

PC

Tametsi is one of the best logic puzzle games you can buy on PC. It’s up there with Hexcells in my mind, albeit without the latter’s exquisite presentation. Its increasing complexity and perfect difficulty curve makes it one of the most compelling puzzles I’ve had the pleasure to play.

Now, I’m being a bit naughty here, because I’ve previously reviewed this on RPS, but having spent countless hours playing it over and over since, and now with its many, many bonus levels, I want to wax on about it some more. And hopefully bring it to the attention of those who haven’t seen it before. Because I love it. I want to kiss it.

(Also, in my head writing about it here justifies all the time I spend playing it instead of work I should be doing.)

I hate it when people compare puzzle games to Minesweeper. Minesweeper is NOT a puzzle game. It’s a guessing game. It’s a horrible, awful, terrible mess of design, in which many moves cannot be deduced but must rather be randomly guessed at, clicking and hoping, and thus is worth nothing. Destroy it. Burn it in an abandoned car park. Minesweeper is loathsome, and every single one of you is wrong to have ever liked it.

Tametsi’s core rules are a bit like Minesweeper’s. OH I HATE HAVING TO WRITE THAT. This is in the sense that Minesweeper’s core rules are a bit like a complete misunderstanding of so many other far better and more superior puzzle concepts, but no one’s head of them and everyone’s heard of bloody Minesweeper. So we start there. Hnnggghh: It’s a bit like Minesweeper, if Minesweeper broke through from the Good Version of our evil universe. Which is to say, you must identify the location of “mines”, in grids of tiles.

After that it bears far more in common with advance logic Fill-a-Pix crossed with picross. Yeah, see, you were all, “Oh, like Minesweeper, eh?” And now you’re all, “Help mummy.” Well that’s YOUR FAULT. Be better.

Each grid comes with a variation of its core set of rules. Numbered tiles indicate how many adjacent tiles contain bombs, while numbers external to the grid tell you how many are highlighted in that row or column. Then there are counts for how many of each colour tile contain bombs overall. These three pieces of information, or sometimes just two of them, are all you need to begin deducing the location of every bomb, letting you clear those you know definitely are not. Some of these will reveal new numbers, and thus you proceed (grrrr) Minesweeper-style to mark or clear them all.

There are 101 core puzzles, which will take a proper 40+ hours to finish. That’s a heck of a lot of game. Then those done, there are a further 60 super-tough bonus puzzles, which I’m working my way through now for the first time. And these are just soooooooo good.

There is never, ever a need to guess a next move. Because this is a proper puzzle game. But Tametsi demands more of the player than any other puzzle game I’ve played to find that next deductible play. There are so, so many techniques to learn, like counting possible placements of tiles along rows, cascading logic that ends in a point where you realise that one can only go here, or that it’s impossible to put two there.

I can’t pretend to have gone on this journey on my own. There’s a YouTuber called inn0centive who is a bloody genius, and has created videos explaining the logical path through every single puzzle. I’ve learned so much by watching him, and then have been able to apply that knowledge to solving the far tougher puzzles independently. And I always experience a moment of catharsis by noticing that the point where I’m completely stuck is where he too suddenly slows down and has to remember how he progressed. Especially when both of us have missed the same really obvious thing.

I now think to look at two or three rows simultaneously, combining their total number of mines, and then working out their minimum possible placement within the three lines of tiles, to find those that can never be filled no matter the correct placement of the rest. Delete those and another clue appears.

I have no idea how it’s vaguely possible to build puzzles this difficult, and leave such a perfect breadcrumb trail – it blows my mind, and I have so much respect for lone developer Tudwell of Grip Top Games.

So it’s agonising beyond measure to read that he’s not working on anything else. I wish I were a rich 16th century style patron, so I could just employ him to muse on puzzle games and compose new creations for me.

This is amazing. It’s outrageous that it’s only £2. IT’S ONLY £2!!! I desperately wish he would port it to Switch and mobile, because I want to be playing this on my sofa as well as at my PC. Maybe one day? Meantime, I’ll keep playing this on a loop until he makes something new.

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7 Comments

  1. I did find one (1) great Minesweeper implementation: the one in Simon Tatham’s puzzle collection. It’s smart enough to never generate an ambiguous puzzle, and it never places a mine under your first revealed tile so you can actually, you know, play. All other Minesweepers are inferior.

    Anyway, thanks for convincing me to go back to Tametsi, I have not toucjed it in a while. I really like the “pencil” feature that lets you harmlessly doodle on the game board, more games need that.

  2. inn0centive has a soothing voice as is indeed a genius, there are definitely some rage filled moments of how my brain just could not logically comprehend some parts of these puzzles. An amazing value for money game, I think I put 50 hours in as a truly work-destroying background game before I dropped off. Makes me want to go back and finish it.

  3. Oh man, 13 puzzles in, and it’s getting HARD! 🙂

    Good recommendation. Always a fan of these deeply methodical type logic puzzles.

    1. …28 and counting. I see what you mean about breadcrumb trails, they’re incredibly well crafted puzzles. There’s always one loose thread, hidden *somewhere*, you just have to think hard enough to find it and start pulling 🙂

  4. Thanks for recommending this gem of a game back on RPS. Just like you, I had a blast with it, and then my little brother loved it, too.

    I think this review is missing praise for two of the game’s features, namely 1) the ability to draw on the board, which is a *huge* boon for complex puzzles, and is a feature I wish all future puzzle games would copy, and 2) there are some great game options hidden away in the game’s launcher, chief of all the option to make cells and columns automatically count down when you mark mines around them (so if you mark three mines around a tile displaying a 5, it displays a 2 instead). This requires a period of adjustment, but then removes some busywork and thereby leaves you more time to appreciate the puzzles. Another feature I wish more such games would copy.

    Finally, since I also enjoyed Geocells Quadcells due to your review on this site, let me reciprocate with a recommendation of another game in this style: Globesweeper: Hex Puzzler (available e.g. on Steam). The original Geosweeper had huge, random levels and possibly also the Minesweeper curse of requiring guesswork, so I didn’t enjoy it much. Fortunately, the devs eventually took their engine and made a Hexcells-style pseudo-sequel with handcrafted levels, and for me this one scratched similar itches to Tametsi. And on the aesthetics side, it’s certainly closer to Hexcells than Tametsi… (zoomed-out example screenshot from one of the final levels: https://i.imgur.com/b2mGRdJ.jpg ). The game is not perfect – for some baffling reason, levels reset if you make enough mistakes, which is fine in small levels but frustrating or anxiety-inducing in huge ones -, but I recommend it anyway.

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