Puzzles can be intensely complex, but they're most impressive when they are intensely elegant. Developer Jonatan Van Hove has defined this captivating simplicity with Invert, a game that challenges you to flip groupings of tiles until the whole mosaic is one colour. You only get a few moves, and you'll find yourself popping back into the game whenever you have a minute of free time, trying to solve another infuriatingly fun puzzle.
Invert's aesthetic is rooted in Suprematism, an early 20th Century art movement that focused on basic geometric forms. Van Hove says, “In late 2015, we had spent a few months on a study of early 20th-century minimalism. We created about 20 puzzle prototypes inspired by Suprematist-era artworks. We decided to pick one of the prototypes and create a full game out of it. We quickly hit on the idea of buttons flipping tiles. For a while we experimented with extra mechanics, adding a third colour, or swapping the position of tiles, but all of that moved away from the beautiful minimalism that we loved in the Invert prototype.”
We did a lot of research on geometric patterns and shapes that fit well together visually. There's an area of research that is occupied with figuring out patterns that fill the plane, both mathematically and aesthetically, and that was a big resource.
Jonatan Van Hove
The mechanics of the game were continually whittled down to adhere to a few core principles. “We made a few variations of the square 5x5 tile grid and decided to instead focus in on that, rather than add more mechanics,” says Van Hove. “We spent about two weeks playing just that, which revealed a lot of depth and even more questions, like, 'Does the order in which you press buttons matter? Can puzzles be solved to both colours? Why do the same patterns keep showing up when you solve a puzzle?' We found we could shape the levels and bend the rules of the puzzles without breaking the simple formula we came up with.”
Once you think you've figured out that simple formula, try Expert mode, where puzzle solutions are several notches harder, or Challenge mode, where you have to beat the clock.