Preview: Skybinder – Tranquil Dotty Origami
Dot to dot puzzles were always one of those classic activities growing up as a child, the folks handing over a book filled with numbers to join up and see what images would appear. While the pastime might not be as popular in the digital age, indie team Maku XR saw an opportunity to make a minimalist puzzle experience that kept to the timeless gameplay but with a modern virtual reality (VR) twist.
Currently available via Oculus Quest App Lab – with a Steam version on the way – Skybinder is a really chilled out puzzler where the goal is to connect lines between various dots; creating origami-style animals in the process. All you have to do is grab one dot and draw a line to whichever dot you think is appropriate, the trick with Skybinder is to think in triangles.
Every single model is a collection of triangles that you have to build up but just because you can make one connection between three locations doesn’t necessarily mean that’s where it goes. Each dot has a counter indicating how many lines connect to it, giving a handy hint as to each models construction.
Because of this Skybinder’s gameplay is instantly intuitive from the start as you can create and delete lines very quickly and easily. The second mechanic to aid puzzle solvers is that when you do make a correct triangle it’ll infill with the lines now fixed. Thus you can easily build upon one area once you get it going, making Skybinder suitable for all ages and skill levels.
So you might think that the title is very easy and you’ll blast through it in no time. This early access edition comes with 20 puzzles to solve, however, as you can see from the screenshots once you hit some of the later levels that come with a multitude of dots to connect Skybinder soon becomes far more intricate and enjoyable to play.
And that’s what is really important, making a fun VR videogame. Skybinder is a very visual puzzle experience, you don’t need an amazing memory or keen deduction skills to translate some ancient language; everything you need is right in front of you. Grab and twist the model, resize it, do whatever to help visualise what the final piece will look like. And if you really get stuck the hint system brings up a miniature version to help.
Skybinder also seems to be one of those ideal puzzle candidates for Oculus Quest’s hand tracking, just using your fingers to draw the lines or pinching the model to move it around. Hopefully, that’s a feature Maku XR is looking into.
Oculus Quest has gained several of these very casual, relaxing puzzle titles with the likes of Cubism and Puzzling Places both offering their own unique take on the genre. Skybinder easily joins this roster, offering its own style and charm for those after a meditative VR experience. It’ll be interesting to see how Maku XR builds upon this as once the puzzles are complete there’s little incentive to keep replaying but you’ll still want to nonetheless.
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