Review: Sixty Four is an addictive incremental game which feels honed in a lab

Sixty Four

Clicker, incremental or idle games have exploded in popularity in recent years, especially playable on mobile devices, when the player may only have a few minutes at a time to invest. Almost all have very similar play cycles; click to acquire resources, and then build improvements which increase the rate at which you acquire resources. Sometimes you no longer even need to click at all, because you build improvements which negate it. Sixty Four, developed by Oleg Danilov and published by Playsaurus, absolutely sticks true to this formula, but on top of it layers a beautifully minimalistic art style and an interesting meta-narrative which explores the unreality of video games.

Sixty Four is absolutely a clicker, sticking close to the established formula. You start off in a formless white void, with a single block extractor. When you click and hold the extractor, it mines blocks, which are then extruded on the 8 tiles around the extractor. Click on the block however many times, and it is mined into 64 cubes. Soon, you’ll unlock machines which allow you to speed up the extraction process as a block is extruded, destabilizers which allow you to break down blocks into cubes quicker, and so on. In not too long, you unlock pumps which will automate the extraction process, and not long after, you gain access to resonators which will automatically click blocks to deconstruct them which are adjacent to it. Thus in not too much time, you will have amassed a fairly sizeable factory of block extractors, destabilizers and resonators, all mining blocks faster and faster.

Sixty Four: Factory
The factory grows.

The complexity of course ramps up; all of the machines need to be powered by different types of blocks. Some are mined while others can be refined using other machinery, some of which can be fairly expensive. You have to think carefully about object placement because most machines need to be directly next to the block or device they’re powering, while the block extractor will only extract the blocks directly around it. Once the blocks are mining themselves, most time is taken up by restocking the various machines, or transferring cubes to be refined into other cubes. Of course in time, even the restocking can be automated, but you’ll probably have to redesign your factory in order to do so.

At the same time as the actual gameplay of Sixty Four, there is also a somewhat minimalist but interesting story. In the lower left-hand corner, there is a text chat window, where “you” converse with someone. The other person seems to be your friend, asking where you are, like a typical text message, but your replies are cryptic, talking about being in a formless void seeing only the machines. In time your friend says that you’ve been reported missing in the real world, but the nature of how you ended up running the block factory or even if it’s just some kind of simulated reality are left for the player to decide. As you improve your factory, your friend will chime in with new messages of reassurance and encouragement. You can of course ignore the story as its entirely text-based, but I appreciated there was some extra level of narrative apart from just being a stylized aesthetic.

Sixty Four: Industry
Keeping your factory running requires lots of micromanagement.

Speaking of the visuals, the isometric, modernist but also industrial style does give Sixty Four quite a unique look, especially as the screen gets overwhelmed by crowds of cubes being mined and machines being refilled, the blocks zooming all over the place. While there are a variety of sound effects such as the mining of blocks or refining of cubes, it’s a shame there’s no game music. I think a soundtrack similar to that of Zachtronics’ SpaceChem would have worked really well given the thematic similarities and increasing the atmosphere of running this increasingly complex, increasingly arcane factory for no discernable reason. 

The complexity curve of Sixty Four is such that if you want to just take it slowly and gradually, you absolutely can, while the grind for more and more resources can be shortened if you make intelligent decisions with your upgrades and factory design. Once you unlock the recycler tower, buildings can be deconstructed for first 90% and later 100% of their cost, meaning you can change the layout and arrange things in a more logical fashion. It’s not an incremental game which revolutionizes the genre, but Sixty Four merges an excellent visual style with a solid upgrade path and interesting meta-narrative to provide a satisfyingly addictive time-sink.

#keymailer #sixtyfour

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