Welcome to Susan Arendt's latest column on Pocket Gamer. In 2018 we've recruited the best writers and most experienced gamers in the industry and asked them to inspire us. Today Susan takes a look at Dissembler, which may or may not be the right word to describe it...
Ok, you're just going to have to forgive Dissembler for its bad grammar. To "dissemble" is to conceal one's true motives, and what you're doing in this game is more in line with being called "disassemble", aka taking stuff apart. But nevermind a few extra letters, because what you're doing is engaging enough to make you miss your next bus stop.
The premise is simple: swap colored blocks to remove them from the playfield. Blocks will only vanish so long as at least three of them are together, and you can't move a block unless it's touching another block.
Clearing each level requires you to match colors in the proper sequence, lest you leave a single cube off by its lonesome in an ocean of white. You'll get the gist after doing just two or three levels. Conceptually, it's a breeze.
Dissembler gets more challenging as you go, of course, as all of these kinds of puzzlers do, pleasantly confounding in a way that will utterly fail to broach your consciousness until you want it to. You won't think about Dissembler when you're not playing it, but when you are playing it, it will consume your active brain cycles. Which is what makes it a really, really great way to deal with anxiety.
There are lots of reasons to be anxious or depressed right now, and that's just the worldwide stuff. You could have all manner of events taking place in your personal life that are sending your brain for a spin. School, work, family, money, health, that guy in the corner cubicle who insists on microwaving fish for lunch - they're all stressors that can make it difficult to make it through the day with your soul in tact.
There are plenty of positive actions you can take to get your head back on straight, like exercise and meditation, but it's a little tough to achieve zen when you're in a crowded subway car. Games like Dissembler can be a fantastic release valve for that stress, getting it to quiet down for a few minutes so you can regain your emotional equilibrium.
Once you're past the first handful of levels, Dissembler's puzzles require your full attention. Guessing at the solution will leave you with isolated squares that can't be matched with anything, so you'll need to attack them methodically.
There's no penalty for getting it wrong, other than not making progress. No buzzer, no "YOU FAILED", no judgy "Would you like a hint?" or option to buy your way past the level. Dissembler trusts that you'll arrive at the solution if you simply try long enough, so it lets you do that. Restarting a puzzle once you've realized you've duffed it is immediate and painless, granting you the leisure to go down as many wrong alleys as necessary.
Pulling your focus onto a benign and lovely conundrum uses up enough of your active brain to short circuit the loop of anxious thoughts swirling around your noggin, giving you a few moments of needed respite.
Playing Dissembler is the mental equivalent of splashing cool water on your face. And with Daily Puzzles and Infinite Mode, it's always there for you when you need it most. (It also very thoughtfully has a colorblind mode.)
Huh. It looks like a puzzle, but it's really a balm for aggravated brains. I guess it really does Dissemble.
Read more of Susan Arendt's columns on Pocket Gamer, and find out more about Dissembler at the game's official site. If you're looking for more columns, then check out Harry Slater and Jon Jordan, who are always on-hand with sharp, tasty opinions too.