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Decipher review - "A tactile, zen-like puzzler"

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad
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Breath in, breath out, and rotate

Product: Decipher | Format: iPhone | Genre: Puzzle | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Playing Decipher is kind of like looking at the movement of an old mechanical watch or a big old clock, and working out how the movement of one cog will the affect the rest.

That process has been made to look and feel far more modern than it sounds, with a cool abstract visual style and tactile controls.

But at its heart, it all comes down to figuring out how things work. Cause and effect.

Like clockwork

The idea is to rotate a bunch of broken circles so that their openings are all aligned with the branching arms of a star map.

Many of these circles are nested within one another. Some are aligned differently, while you'll discover that the movement of one might be directly linked to that of another.

It's up to you to decipher (aha!) how these variously shaped and coloured circles are interconnected, and figure out a way to bring them all in sync.

Aligning an entire nest of circles will light up that portion of the star map, prompting a satisfying rush of endorphins.

Cogs whirring

Figuring this stuff out starts out as a gently taxing affair. It's oddly pleasing to discover that the developer isn't in a rush to ramp up the difficulty.

Your early progress is rather calm and serene, and even as the tasks grow more challenging, you're only ever a few twists away from cracking the current case. Add in the fact that there's no scoring system or time limit - not to mention those spacey visuals - and Decipher takes on a pleasantly zen-like feel.

This tinkering, trial and error approach might put the more committed puzzler fan off. It's not quite as coldly cerebral as it might initially seem, and is more akin to feeling your way towards a mechanical safe combination than applying your intellect to a serious conundrum.

It's perhaps a less memorable experience for it. The abstract nature of the puzzles and the blissed out music can have a soporific effect, and make it a little tricky to really engage with the underlying logic of the puzzles. 

I would often 'solve' a puzzle without ever really thinking about it, which started to feel a little cheap.

Snap out of it

Decipher isn't the kind of revelatory, smarty-pants puzzler that will stick in the mind in between playing sessions.

It's the kind of virtual gizmo that many will be content to sit on the couch and tinker with on a lazy Sunday, or to absently paw at while lounging in front of the TV.

If you choose to fully engage with its increasingly complex clockwork conundrums, you'll find a rewarding puzzler. But its blissed out, unassuming nature can make it tricky to do so.
Decipher review - "A tactile, zen-like puzzler"
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 1 October 2018
A calming, zen-like puzzler with a clockwork mechanic that's pleasant to tinker with, but perhaps lacks the sharp edge of the very best
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