Dynamic Sketch Book is a dynamic puzzle game where you need to get object A to point B within the time limit. To do this you’ll draw objects like lines, make rolling circles, nudge cars, erase lines, drag and interact with ink blots or space ships. You’re given a specific limit of lines drawn, nudges and erases to solve each puzzle. That way you can’t go crazy sketching giant structures.
There are re-bindable hot keys to do things, but you’ll need that mouse to do the drawing. Its as simple as clicking anywhere to make point A and a line will be drawn as you hold it down. So you can make any sort of squiggly line or shape that you want to. After a brief three second countdown these lines become permanent and aren’t affected by physics. The line itself won’t change shape, just location as gravity pulls on it. I found myself abusing some of these frozen physics to solve puzzles. Maybe that’s what you’re supposed to do, but the game doesn’t hold it against you.
To make a sphere, you’ll hold the mouse button down without moving it, then the pointer changes to a pen, which then allows you to drag the mouse out to make a perfect circle. The weight of the circle will react to the slope of any hill. Use the circles to bowl them into objects to push them. Even the erase function has some precision to it. Erase an entire line with a right click or only scrub it with the left mouse button.
The game is broken up into five chapters of twelve pages, so that’s sixty challenging puzzles. Playing through one unlocks the next. At the end of each puzzle you’re given a star rating before you can move on, retry or head back to the level listing. It feels like it would be at home on a touch screen, but I think you need the precision of a mouse.
Each of the chapters has its own theme. The first has you getting a soccer ball into a goal. The second chapter has you nudging a car down ramps headed for a finish line. The car can flip, tumble and end up in a state that can’t be rolled, so you need to take that into account when you drawn your lines. You’ll even get to pull a trailer with a rock in it for extra difficulty.
In the fourth chapter, there are ink blobs where the objective is to get that blob into an ink well. The only problem is as a liquid it goes everywhere so you need to corral it with the lines. To make things more interesting there are dump trucks to haul it and gears that will carry it bead by bead over and under. This was the highlight of the game for me. It just feels so much more vivid, interactive, fun and dynamic.
The fifth chapter is in space where you’ll need to launch rocket ships and shift your mouse to steer it left and right. The object is to get it into the launch window at the top of the screen. This felt more like a mini game than a puzzle. Its still challenging due to the controls and your need for precision. The slightest over calculation can send it spiraling end over end. It also feels more alive and visual than anything else in the game. Seeing the colorful drawn smoke, watching it spin out of control and explode into crayon colors. Later you’ll need to nudge a moon lander down ramps to start the rocket ship for launch.
In reality these puzzles are too difficult for me. A lot of them feel like I’m spending a lot of time on trial and error only to have dumb luck sometimes getting me through them. That could just be me though. You can reset a puzzle at any time and after each of my failed attempts that’s what I’d do a lot, but you can never sketch exactly what you had before. It might look the same, be placed at almost the same position, but there’s always a different nuance to it that can change the outcome. That’s where I feel like it was luck of the draw so to speak.
Since you can draw your own solution, that leads to any number of different puzzle solutions or even laugh out loud moments when something goes horribly wrong. Timing plays a key part in some of the pages, such as ones with a swing set that can kick your soccer ball based on where its hit. Later levels have moving platforms that you’ll need to reach them at just the right time. Even then, your car can tumble over top and either land perfect and keep going or get wrecked.
A feature to eliminate or undo things would be nice. I found myself drawing two perfect ramps only to botch the third and have to start all over again. Even having a near perfect run with my car almost making it to the finish line only to be thwarted, I’d still need to restart from scratch rather than taking something away to make it longer, shorter or even move it just a bit to the right.
The game has an art style that lies somewhere between crayons or markers drawn onto each yellow page. The art style makes it very kid friendly and accessible for everyone even if the puzzles are pretty challenging. A nice touch to the game is every line you draw and every giant blot of ink is a different color each time you replay it. The clouds in the sky even change. You’ll even find a drawn candy car that looks very authentic.
The music needs to go and its just the one song. It just sounds too generic rock for a puzzle game. The eclectic sounds of guitar riffs and a harmonica just don’t sound like good music to think with. The music and sound can both be turned off separately.
Creative minded puzzle fans can will enjoy the difficult challenges that let them think out of the box. Some of the puzzles toward the end of the second and third chapters are time consuming due their their difficulty, In closing, I’d also like to thank Ed for giving me a copy of the game.