I’ve been playing Professor Layton and the Curious Village, which is nicely easy to pick up and put down, to leave alone and come back to much later. The plot is kid-simple and the game recaps it every time you turn it on, as well as giving you journal entries and reminders of everything that’s happened and every objective you want to accomplish, so there’s no danger of forgetting where you were; but even so, the fun of it isn’t in the plot.
Most of the game consists of searching for puzzles and solving them, in order to talk to townspeople to solve a bigger mystery and lots of sub-mysteries. There seem to be about 130 puzzles, give or take, so the gameplay is much like working your way through a puzzle book of mixed types. You can also find hint coins which you can use to get hints on puzzles– sparingly, because to get anything useful out of them you usually have to buy all three hints for the puzzle. There’s no dearth of coins, though, and getting through the game isn’t too hard. It’s fun, and if I do get tired of puzzling, I don’t feel obligated to finish it now before I forget what I’m doing– I know I can play something else for a while and come back to it and pick up right where I left off. There’s no big investment in the progress I’ve already made.
In other news, I’ve been playing Myst:Exile, which has some stunningly beautiful locations. If I ever become a powerful person with research labs and journals that need to be kept safe from the mentally unbalanced and sadistic villains who tend to chase after me, then I will not secure my study with elaborate locks that require me to tediously walk up and down steep cliffs every time I want to unlock them, but can be opened by solving a puzzle. I also will not engrave the lock combination into a plaque. And when I am in dire need of someone’s help, instead of giving them a journal filled with backstory, I will give them a journal full of puzzle solutions for wherever they’re going.