I’m not a coder. I’ll be honest, the idea of getting into coding, software development or, in fact, anything to do with computers sounds hideous to me. But Luden.io’s puzzling education game While True: Learn () makes it fun, accessible and interesting. If only this game was around when I was a kid – who knows what I would actually be doing now.
Struggling when developing a new programme, you take a short break only to come back to find your cat fixing your code for you. In fact, he is a lot better than you are. But this discovery can’t help you in your faltering fledgling career, so you must develop a cat-to-human translation machine to help you make it in the world of computer programming. But how are you going to do that when you know practically nothing about how to put together a piece of computer code?
Well, starting as a freelancer (to make some money for your invention) you gradually take on more complicated tasks, increasing your knowledge, building ever more complex systems and fixing increasingly difficult problems. In each mission you need to create a program that does the job whilst being as cheap and efficient as possible. There’s also the opportunity to invest in in-game start-ups where you must make the most efficient system for your company’s needs, eventually cashing out the profit you’ve helped them make.
The slow build up allows you to learn each mechanic thoroughly in small levels, whilst gradually expanding your knowledge – especially helpful for someone with no existing knowledge of what’s going on – and gradually moving up the task tree to more complicated problems. New mechanics are explained really well, whilst being translated into a real world context with a useful article and video accompanying each new section. This really helps to guide your learning both in-game and in real life.
Each mechanic is then linked together, with others, to help you sort your starting set of raw data into distinct sections and categories. Whilst some menus can be confusing, making it a task to navigate between different screens, the actually gameplay itself is very intuitive and effortless, allowing you to focus on developing these skills.
Quite simply it’s just easy to get to grips with, and this is helped by the straightforward control scheme. The ability to use the touchscreen on the Switch really helps, although in handheld mode it is too small when you get round to building more complicated programs.
And later on, when you have to build more complex systems, it does get hard. Coding isn’t easy. But there’s a lot of training to get you to that point, with hints to push you in the right direction if need be. It really works well as an educational game, because you feel thoroughly guided in the initial stages, before being allowed the opportunity to try things out for yourself.
There’s not always one right answer to each problem, which aids its replay-ability factor as you could go back again to try something different or try to make your system more efficient. What that really helps with though is enhancing the realism of the skills you learn as, if you were tasked with putting together one of these sorting mechanisms in real life, there would be a huge number of different ways to do it.
All of this is tied together with a slick anime-style art scheme that I find works really well for a game of this genre. It appeals to an array of different audiences without seeming too juvenile, or too adult for some, which ultimately this game is all about – it’s about educating people of all ages.
Playing While True: Learn () for the first time I was pretty apathetic towards the idea of coding, and that was helped at the start by the comparatively juvenile premise. But that’s changed and, simply, the puzzling nature of the game really helps. It’s fun, tricky, but also informative and, as I said at the beginning, if this game was around when I was a kid, who knows what I’d be doing now.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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While True- Learn () Review
Gameplay - 8/10
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 6/10
Replay Value - 7/10
Informative, fun and challenging all at the same time, if only this was only around when I was younger.
- Guides you well through new mechanics.
- Strong difficulty curve.
- Relatable to the real world.
- Confusing menu structure.
- Juvenile underlying plot.