Stream

Time is a slippery weasel. I rarely stop to examine it, so most of the time it exists as a blur in the corner of my eye. When I do try to stop and really figure it out, it constantly slips away from me, twitching its little weasel whiskers as me before darting down into its little time cave.

That could be why I’m so fascinated with time mechanics in video games. It gives me the chance to control time like a record, scratching back and forth at will. Which is why I really enjoyed the superb puzzle game Stream.

Stream is a first-person platformer where your only controls are standard first-person controls and time-manipulation controls of rewind, forward and pause/play. You use these buttons to control time, which lets you control the movement of the platforms around you—most of them anyway. Any black pieces of the level are controlled by your time manipulation, but white pieces conveniently ignore your time shenanigans.

This is all paired with a stark, black and white palette that combines with the music to leave the world feeling oppressive and clinical. In many ways you are put into a time laboratory and you’re running experiments, trying to solve the puzzles through deduction and observation. It fits well with the puzzle genre. It also helps differentiate the moving platforms against the background.

Talking Points: Why is time manipulation such a natural fit for the puzzle genre? Are there any puzzle games where messing with time wouldn’t be awesome? Do the stark environments make the puzzles easier to solve?

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Comments

I could only play for 20 seconds because they don't allow you to invert your mouse. Seems like it would be cool too.

It was fun, but I'm not sold on the visuals. Yes, the black/white thing made some parts of the puzzles easier to decipher, but I think that more complex visuals might have made some things clearer. For example, the "jumping" block at the end of the tutorial area was a bit difficult to decipher. Now, I figured it out after 10 seconds, but I think that that was 5 seconds too much.

I will say though, if you are going to make a puzzle game and you don't have the time and money to really put the detail in to make everything decipherable, then black, white, and simple is probably your best option.

But, then again, Limbo in color would have sucked...

I dig the time manipulation, though that is starting to get a bit stale. Ever since (The Matrix? FEAR? Braid?) video games have been saturated with it. I like it to be a bit more background like in Mass Effect 2. It was awesome whenever you zoomed in on the sniper rifle and everything just slowed down a bit. I know, not quite the same thing, but I think that time manipulation, while fun as a gimmick, ultimately is best used organically.

It was definitely interesting... but it was an exercise in pure gameplay. There was no story, not even one I could infer on my own, no greater concern other than the platforming. Basically it felt like a demo for the mechanic. Which left me feeling a little dissatisfied with the experience, since I was expecting a game of some sort. Otherwise I thought it was a neat mechanic.

StAugustine wrote:

I dig the time manipulation, though that is starting to get a bit stale. Ever since (The Matrix? FEAR? Braid?) video games have been saturated with it.

I believe you're looking for Prince of Persia: Sands of Time.

I enjoyed brinks, time sweeper. Not 100% sure on that is the right name. Cool game with cool time mechanics. Xbox from back in the day.