When I first started to play Sature some half-formed thought lingered in the back of my mind. After an hour or so of playing the game however it struck me: Sature is more or less a colourful version of Triple Triad from Final Fantasy VIII. Triple Triad is the mini-game I have spent the most time with out of any game I have ever played and once this connection was made between the nostalgic synapses of my brain, Sature began to click with me in a way it hadn’t before.

Coming from S.S.64 Games, a small five person team out of Indiana, Sature’s developer Ian Sundstrom described the idea for the game springing from his experience as a painter, mixing colours on a palette. This inspiration is evident in the game’s central premise which differentiates it from the card collection element of Triple Triad, strategically placing tiles on a game board to change your opponent’s tile colour. The person who changes the colour of opposing tiles more is the winner. While this may initially seem simple, particularly given the genuinely helpful nature of the in-game tutorial, the game can be devilishly difficult on higher difficulty settings or against a crafty opponent.

Sature’s colour wheel gameplay in action

One player will have a set of hexagonal tiles of varying colours and colour hues with a seemingly random number of directional arrows on each tile to be placed on the game board. If an opponent then places a tile on an adjoining space with one of the tile’s arrows facing the previously placed tile then the first piece will change colour. The severity of the colour change is what amounts to the “score” you achieve for a successfully placed tile, for instance a red tile affecting a yellow tile will have a greater effect than a red tile affecting another red tile due to the more drastic difference in colours. This means that the more you can change an opponent’s tile colour the further the slider at the bottom of the screen will slide in your direction, the winner of the game being decided by which side of the divide this slider lands on.  A drag down colour wheel is available in game for reference to which colour choice will be most effective in a given situation.

Available for pay-what-you-want on PC or on the Apple App Store as a free-to-play download with the option to purchase the full set of game modes, tiles and colour sets in app the average Sature match should be quick enough to complete but there is enough room for strategy for games to go on a while, much like a chess match. What can add to the complexity of a given match’s strategy is the size of the board, whether or not walls litter the board ( these cannot be affected by colour change) as well as whether or not special tiles are in play. These special tiles include split colour pieces, the aforementioned wall pieces, time bombs and more. Each additional new tile type can add a whole new layer to the match and make for a variety of styles of play. That’s refreshing in a genre which usually hinges on one gimmick or game type.

One problem I initially ran into with Sature was what I can only call my own lack of visual intelligence. While I understood the strategy of arrow placement and could even grapple with the inclusion of more complicated tile pieces I could not easily understand how much one colour would affect another. Admirably though the game includes a colour blind mode which shows on an individual tile where exactly on the colour wheel the tile lies, meaning it’s then much more visually apparent which tile is best used to swing another piece around the wheel and swing the game in your favour. This mode solved the problem I was having and made it far more enjoyable, in fact it may be even better with those mode enabled even for non-colourblind individuals as it makes the colour changing mechanic much simpler to grasp.

Sature with colourblind mode enabled

Sature with colourblind mode enabled

There are a few niggling problems to be found, mainly that the randomness of the tiles set for both players or for the player and the AI opponent can far too easily influence the game’s outcome. An easy example of this is one game where I had three blank tiles (completely useless in the game) while my opponent had a number of tiles with arrows in almost all possibly directions, the most useful in the game. A better balance on how tile sets are randomly distributed would solve this problem easily and make it much fairer for all involved. A lack of tutorial for the alternate tile types is also unfortunate but does not stop the use of these pieces being intuitive with some practice.

Ultimately though these completely one sided games weren’t too common and did not ruin the experience. Sature is definitely a game I will kill time with in future on a long bus journey or in a boring lecture, until Square put the original Triple Triad on mobile at least.

 

 

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23 year old Irish student by day, much the same by night. Gamer, cinephile, whiskey appreciator but mostly a mess of a human being. I can often be found talking about some obscure horror movie on twitter or something equally obtuse.

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  • If the tile imbalanced games are surmountable then maybe they can be interesting challenges. If not the game may depend too much on its initial state.

    I think a true “colour blind” mode would give “actually” colour blind people some options so the colours that give them difficulty can be isolated and removed from the experience. Calling the mode that might be a little bit annoying if you are colour blind.

    Accessibility is something games fail horribly at. Our games are really primitive. We don’t have any standards or anything. Neither open technology standards nor personal standards it seems. There’s almost infinite room for improvement. We can only go up.