Poikilia is a very interesting, albeit short, puzzle game brought to us by the awesome that is Gambit Labs up at MIT. The basic idea is that you are a little boy who’s family runs a sort of magic lighthouse where the braziers can produce multicolored fire. You fall down a hole and have to find your way about out but keep the brazier lit the entire time. It explores both the CMYK and RGB ways of mixing color, also known as pigment blending and light blending.
Unlike most educational games, Poikilia uses the game mechanics themselves to teach the color theory that they want to teach rather than just kind of theming the game or adding written information in or something weird like that. They report on their website that their intention was to promote active transfer. I assure you, it does. I’ve always had a lot of trouble with color theory and after a few play throughs of this, I’ve got it completely. The one thing I don’t like is that its really short. There are only 24 levels to Poikilia.
The mechanics are pretty much your standard fair. You use the arrow keys to move around inside a maze and you have to find the exit. The really awesome part of this is that you have a brazier with colored light or colored smoke and you have to make it through the whole maze with there still being something in the brazier. If you goes out, you have to start again. The colors would only go out if you step across a line that causes that particular color to vanish. Therein lies the challenge. One thing I really like is that there are CMYK and RBG color wheels in the top corners of the play screen at all times based on which kind of color mixing you’re actively involved in.
I thoroughly enjoyed playing Poikilia, and really enjoyed meeting the developers last year at PAX. I strongly suggest that you check out this game, and others by Gambit. I love the art and the music and the play is really awesome. Overall, I award this game a 4.5 out of 5 hearts. The only reason its not perfect is because I just wish it was longer.
If you’re interested in playing Poikilia, you can find it at Gambit’s webpage here.