Impossible Stairs is a medium-sized puzzlefest crafted by Mathbrush. This game is an authorized sequel to Impossible Bottle, a story that tied for first place in the 2020 IF Comp. In this game, a series of puzzles bring your family together for a meal by the end of it. It’s a light-hearted adventure and not overly difficult. However, I did need some of the hints to make it to the end.
The game does start with a tutorial, so this one might be good for newcomers to the genre. It also has a hint system that will carry the player through to the end. I shut off the tutorial right when I started playing. I didn’t want it giving away any actions I should do. But the hints I did use a few times. They were a little clunky with specific topics and could use a few more synonyms, but I managed to figure them out.
The game itself is a time-zone puzzle, where going up and down the stairs will shift the player by 20 years. There are only six rooms in each zone, with a total of five time zones to play through. As you play, you find yourself going up and down the stairs a lot, piecing each puzzle together. And the puzzles are interconnected, giving the whole house a solid feeling. Even though there are over 30 rooms, the layout is small and easy to keep in your head. But as you play, it does become a bit to manage, and it was hard to know what to focus on. I had to use the hints.
There’s something special going on here, with bringing your family together for the last dinner, so to speak. Because here, when you get to the later time zones, you can see the house has been sold. You’re moving out. So bringing everybody together for a final meal works and pulls on the heartstrings. Also, who was that woman in the window? Was that the PC’s Mom? He didn’t really know his Mother, so she could’ve been. That part didn’t resolve, or maybe it’s buried in the code somewhere, and I missed it. But everything came together really well, and I enjoyed it a lot. There is a story worth playing here.
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