It’s the bloody simple ones every time, isn’t it?! As we all know I’m always first in line for a new puzzling challenge. The thing is, I don’t always have the time for expansive gameplay sessions so something I can pick up and play for an hour or two at a time is often preferable. This is very much the nature of the beast with SHAFTED, the intriguing little puzzler I’ve been playing of late. If this title is anything at all to go by, we don’t want to work for aliens; they’re rude!
The premise of SHAFTED is really simple. You are the chief of a mining colony. With this being said, you’ll need to set up mining nodes and extractors to get valuable goodies from the earth. You must optimize your shafts to increase their yield and spend the resources you gather on more shafts and, therefore, further optimization. So this is just a game about getting the best from what you’re given, right? Sort of.
SHAFTED is called this because being shafted is not something you want; in fact, it’s a game-ending position to be in. Those aliens I mentioned earlier? Yeah, they’re demanding to put it politely. These are the ugly bastards that also happen to be your contractors. To complete a map you need to appease all of these interplanetary business folk by filling whatever request they have for you. The issue you have is that each contract has a time limit, some of the quotas seem absolutely bonkers, and not meeting expectations is a good way of going back to the start screen. If you don’t meet these demands you will end up shafted. I shall explain how in a second.
Each contractor lands on your map and demands whatever amount of materials they happen to need. Their ship then displays the number of days until they run out of patience. Should you exceed this number they will destroy your entire mining operation, leading you to being shafted and an instant game over. To make matters worse they will attack sections of the map each turn, destroying any equipment you happen to have on those sections. It’s like they don’t want you to win! See? Rude!
The gameplay in SHAFTED is simple but feels really satisfying. You place your mine shafts and then have to optimize them using a relatively simple puzzle. Have any of you ever played pipes before? There have been a lot of games that have used this mechanic but put simply you have the main node that you need to attach to a series of mineral deposits using differently shaped pipes. The more of these you link together, the higher the yield you’ll get from that shaft. On top of this, you need to consider where you’re going to place those shafts because they will grant each other bonuses depending on the pattern in which you set them up. You’ll want the best layout you can possibly get because some of the demands are steep and you don’t have a choice in meeting them.
SHAFTED is a game about smart planning and to an extent about holding your nerve. All of the contracts are of different lengths and working out who to please isn’t always about doing things the fastest. You might have a contract of three days, so you’ll want to get your skates on. On the other hand, there might be another with a timer of five days, but the ship is placed in a really dangerous position where it can do a lot of damage to you. Both these contracts want the same resource, so which one do you complete first? That three-day contract will end you if you aren’t quick but it’s a bit pointless if you don’t have any extractors left to complete anything else. This is where the challenge lies and by god it’s fun!
Considering SHAFTED is a relatively simple puzzler it’s bloody addictive. The basics are really easy to learn and I completed the game on easy on my second attempt. I’m playing on normal now and it’s definitely giving my brain a workout. The difficulty is measured partly by the number of rounds you play, (one round for easy, two for medium, and so on,) but also by the fact that the map gets bigger with each completed round and the demands of the contractors become steeper. One minute I was playing along quite nicely then the next I was sitting here wondering where I was going to get ten thousand units of iron from. The stress is definitely there but it’s kinda enjoyable.
In case you hadn’t already grasped this, I’m having a lot of fun with SHAFTED, and considering it only costs about three quid over on Steam it’s definitely worth its asking price. The graphics are simple, the music is nice and the controls couldn’t be easier. This being said, for fans of puzzle and strategy games there really isn’t a lot here not to like. You can complete a round relatively quickly too, so if you haven’t got a lot of time on your hands it’s a perfect pick-up-and-play entity. Really good stuff all around.
An unearthed gem.
SHAFTED is a brilliant puzzler that’s bringing me back again and again. The thing I love about this title is its simplicity. SHAFTED is very much a title that’s easy to learn but hard to master and as rounds are fairly short you don’t lose too much of your valuable time in any one sitting. The fact that this game is also ridiculously good value for money makes it a strong contender for the libraries of puzzle and strategy fans alike.