I absolutely love the GROW series developed by the Japanese indie game creator known as On.
The mechanics of these games are quite simple: you click on various building block pieces to add them to your creation (a maze, a park, a tower, etc). Depending on the order you place the pieces, they will interact in different ways and to varying degrees. Your goal is to place the pieces in the correct order to maximize their interaction and create a glorious Rube Goldberg contraption.
Some of the games even have multiple “endings” that allow for different types of creations.
Reading through the piece got me thinking about what exactly it is that makes these games so charming to me. Of course the aesthetics are adorable and the surprising and elaborate structures are delightful.
But I think the thing I like best about the game is its refusal to speak.
The games never feature any kind of text or talk (although the little people who live within the structures you create sometimes make happy little sounds). The only feedback you get comes from watching the objects interact with each other and from a “stats” screen at the end of a play through letting you know which objects need to be better arranged on your next try. This design decision makes me feel as though I am learning through my own experimentation and using my own imagination. It feels rather like playing with Legos or Tinkertoys.
So if you have a few minutes to spare and you aren’t allergic to cuteness, go check out the GROW series.