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About the Story
Sequel to Shuffling Around and A Roiling Original, but you don’t have to have played them. The same anagram theme.
Entrant, Main Festival - Spring Thing 2022
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Number of Reviews: 3
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I’ve played and enjoyed a bunch of Andrew Schultz’s recent games riffing on board games, but have to confess that I’ve often found it harder to get into his wordplay ones; something about the pig latin one from a year or two back especially managed to melt my brain, despite recognizing that there was quite a lot of care taken to provide hints, tutorials, and other support to invite the player in. So I turned to this game, which is clearly anagram-focused (it’s a sequel to some older games that apparently have a similar concept), with an eagerness not unalloyed with trepidation.
Turns out I needn’t have worried – while I definitely had a few moments of struggle, Tours Roast Torus is an approachable set of puzzles, boasting a well-tuned level of difficulty, a sufficiently fleet play time not to wear out the concept, and some optional tough-as-nails endgame challenges for those who didn’t break a sweat getting to the end (I mean, this wasn’t me but I assume someone out there got through the core puzzles, cracked their knuckles, and settled in to have some real fun). There’s a bit of a plot threaded through which connects to those earlier games, and while I didn’t have much context for all the proper nouns, the setup is clear enough: antsy after your accomplishments in the previous games, you set out to explore a mysterious tower found in the middle of the eponymous torus.
Said exploration consists of finding an anagram from the prompt given in the names of each location along the torus. There’s a clever trick here, which is that each puzzle involves a word that includes exactly two of each word it includes, so it can be decomposed into a pair of smaller anagrams which make up the prompt. So like the prompt could be something like “stake takes”, which you’d read and then come up with – nothing, because I’m much less clever than Schultz is, but let’s pretend “askettakes” is a word.
As is typically the case with anagrams, for about half of these I looked at them and got them near-immediately, and half of them left me completely baffled. This is where Schultz’s trademark player-friendliness comes in; there’ll usually be a gentle nudge somewhere in the location text prompting you towards the answer, and if that’s not enough, the protagonist has a set of tattoos that tell you how many letters you’ve got in the right place, allowing you to trial-and-error your way to success (there’s also an advanced setting for the tattoos that provides even more information, but I couldn’t figure out how they worked). They’re largely reasonable words, too: there was one exception where I thought “hey, is that really a word?” (Spoiler - click to show)(HAPPENCHANCE), but at the same time I got that one after only two or three guesses so I think it plays fair. And in case your brain is starting to get tired of anagrams, there’s a well-calculated change of pace for the penultimate puzzle since it uses an entirely different mechanic.
With all these supports, it took me about a half hour to play through the main puzzles and solve the first of the bonus challenges (entirely by luck, I have to add), and then I poked around the post-game options for a few more minutes, since those helpfully tell you what you missed and lay out some fun rejected puzzle options. I found a few technical niggles – some of the text for the advanced version of the tattoos came out a little garbled, and they seemed to get confused by the endgame bonus puzzles (details in the transcript). But it’s all solidly put together, and the whole package makes for a nice, concentrated burst of wordplay that just about any player can have some fun with.
TOURS ROUST TORUS
We tested this imaginative game a couple of weeks ago in IFMUD.
Now I have played the game again and it seems more polished to me. As the title says, there are some anagraming puzzles, none of them are specially difficult, they are affordable ones.
There is also some exploration work in the game. When you wander through a torus there is no cardinal directions.
The last puzzle has enough clues if you read the descriptions slowly.
It is a medium lenght, easy and friendly game.
Out of the many wordplay games Andrew Schultz has made, the anagram ones are perhaps my favorites (along with Threediopolis). I feel like coming up with anagrams is hard enough to be fun but easy enough not to be overwhelming or send me to hints or online solvers right away.
This is a compact game, set on a circle (or torus) with 7 different locations. Each one is solvable through an anagram.
After that, there is a motion puzzle that is a little tricky to solve. What is going on, exactly? Well, it seems like they want you to (strong spoilers without an explicit solution) (Spoiler - click to show)visit every square of the torus, never moving more than half its length at once, and varying your steps somewhat.
It took me quite a while to figure out what was wanted here, as I kept finding solutions deemed 'too easy'.
Overall, I'd say this is a fairly challenging game, and definitely one not to miss for fans of the first two, longer games.
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