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‘Windosill’ iPad Review – A Brief Trip Into Surrealism

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How long do you need to play to have a good time? Windosill [$2.99] is a straight up terrible value proposition if you like serious length from your games. It doesn’t take much longer than 15 minutes to run through and there’s no real replayability. But damned if it isn’t a great 15 minutes while it lasts.

If you take it down to fundamentals, Windosill is a puzzle game about traveling. A toy car drives from room to room. Each is locked, each has to be solved with creative thinking and exploration to open the next. There are only eleven rooms, and they’re over in a snap. Yet whimsy and charm makes it ever so memorable.

This is a port of a Flash game from 2009, but the iPad version feels like it was always meant to be. There was always something tactile about its puzzles; now players can interact with them directly. Multitouch makes a huge difference – not in how the puzzles are solved, but in how they can be played with.

That’s what Windosill is: playful. It’s a game, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s also a toy. Poking around is almost as fun as solving a room. Each room is filled with interactive widgets – boxes to open, lights to turn on, leaves to pull off – and the trick is to find which ones can be used to open the next door. But playing with everything else will reward you with equally delightful results. And every bit of it is eye-candy, designed with a look to surrealists of the past.

Windosill doesn’t get into how to play, so neither will I. Poke around, experiment. That’s all you need to do. There are no awkward controls to deal with – just tap and drag things around, see what they do. And don’t be afraid to experiment.

There is a little value in the iPad version over the Flash game. Once you complete the game, you can turn on two settings: Complex Gravity and See-Thru. The former lets you play with tilt controls, the latter lets you look at the inner-workings of each level. It doesn’t add much, but it’s an extra bit of play. You can also paw through a sketchbook of concept art.

So there you go. Only you can know if you can be satisfied by such a brief encounter. If you can, Windosill is fantastic. It’s gorgeous, playful and feels like it was born to be played on a touch screen. But I wouldn’t blame you if the brevity is just too much. Bigger isn’t better, but Windosill leaves me wanting more, and there isn’t more to come. Delighted or disappointed? Stop by our discussion thread to share.

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