They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder—but what if what you are looking at is constantly changing? Here are five games full of optical illusions, tricks of perspective, and puzzles where the answer isn’t just simple platforming. They force you to think outside of the box and re-learn everything you know about conventional gaming.
5. The Bridge
Out of all of the games here, this one most closely resembles the drawings of M.C. Escher (best known for his drawings of infinite staircases and waterfalls). Although only a trailer and a short gameplay demo is available, it’s clear that this game will cover new platforming territory. Everything is essentially a gravity puzzle: you control the angle of the scenery, and turning it causes the character to fall to the angle of gravity. Any wall or object can become a stepping stone as you cross the Bridge.
4. Super Paper Mario
Although this game is the odd one out, it definitely messes with perspective and found a way to put 3D gaming into a 2D platformer. It appears as a regular 2D platformer until you switch the view—and then you can find hidden items, blocks, and switches behind the scenery. Combined with the blocky art style and good music, this game is a refreshing entry in the Paper Mario series.
What Perspective lacks in stylized graphics, it makes up for in ingenuity. You play as a first-person camera, and moving through the 3D world causes the 2D platforms to change shape and allow for the main character to progress through the game while avoiding orange lava. Although the game is still in development and many of the features are still confusing, this looks like an innovative puzzle game that could rival Portal’s success.
Fez puts you in a 2-Dimensional world that suddenly breaks and becomes 3D. Changing the perspective makes platforms move and paths appear, despite a continuous 2D view, and is essential to solving all of the puzzles. It has a laid-back approach to death, and combined with the soft chiptune music, it makes for a very meditative experience. The puzzles are also incredibly tough, with the final puzzle still unsolved, despite the entire internet trying to decode it (they’ve found the answer, but not how to get to that answer). If you’re interested in codes and riddles and consider most puzzle games to be too easy, this game is for you.
Out of all of the games on this list, this one bends reality the most. Its simple style hides a very complex array of physics—and most of those physics don’t equate to physics in reality. Looking at something twice can change its properties and appearance, passing through a door will change where it exits, and retracing your steps is sometimes the best way to progress forward. This game seems like it will take memorization, trial-and-error, and inventive exploration to beat, since the solutions are not always obvious. The game is set for release sometime in 2012.