A game shouldn’t have to be complicated to be interesting. Really, if you think about games that existed before video games, uncomplicated was the order of the day. Sudoku, Go and crossword puzzles are as simple as they get. Non-competitive games can be extremely simple and still compelling, instead of an ever increasing ramp of tension and drama, they can become a bit of a zen exercise. A calm moment of contemplation.
OUKA is a very minimalist experience, offering the simplest rules possible in a video game. You have a mouse cursor and one button. You are tasked with clicking on the flower blossom symbol to continue. That’s the only rule you get for the entire game. As the levels progress, instead of adding more symbols or other twists, the game simply plays with you. The blossom moves as you move, or doesn’t, or avoids certain areas, or has gravity, or any number of other tricks.
This simple exercise in discovering the game’s rules is a game in it’s simplest form. The game is literally a black box, and you poke and prod at it trying to work through its inner mechanics. There are very few words as a result. Even the hint system is mostly wordless. Instead of a long sentence or paragraph explaining things, or even a tutorial video, when you click the “Hint” button the game simply lays part of the level’s inner workings bare. It’s a testament to the simplicity of the game that this works so well.
Programming note: We need more time to properly handle To The Moon, but will talk about that game next.