This weekend I've been playing Grindstone, the wonderfully bloodthirsty puzzle game from Capy that just got an update on Apple Arcade. And the update is a doozy. A daily mode! Daily Grind! Four levels each day, slice your way through them and then compete on the leaderboards. It's thrilling - a game that is perfect for the daily challenge now has one.
I've been wondering why a daily mode matters so much here, and I think it's down to why Grindstone is not only a very compulsive puzzle game but a fiendish and sometimes devastating one.
Very basic gist: Grindstone is a colour matching game. You have a grid filled with different baddies of a handful of different colours, and you move around slicing them down as you go. You can only chain baddies of the same colour together, though, unless you pass through a jewel which allows you to switch - pink to yellow, say; green to blue.
The thing of it is this: Grindstone is one of those almost perfect information games. I say almost because there are a couple of annoying baddies who target random parts of the board. Most of the time though you know which baddies are primed to attack, which areas are safe to land in, and - thanks to a handy counter as you plan your chains - how many baddies each move is going to cut through. That's crucial: you can plan your chain and then not execute it. You can plan a hundred different moves if you want and choose the best one. THEN you execute. And unfailingly, once I've pressed the button to execute, I will see a simple thing I could have done - a simple shuffling of elements - that could have gotten me a few more baddies.
Every time. Every. Time. And I have nobody but myself to blame, because this is, after all, a game of almost perfect information. The greatness of this - the singular cruelty - is that while you have all the time you want to plan the optimal move, once you've committed, you're then completely unable to do anything while your move plays out. You get to watch, powerless, as the better move inevitably presents itself.
The French have a term for this - one of their best. L'esprit de l'escalier. The staircase mind. The spirit of the staircase? Anyway, it's the term for that feeling you get when you suddenly realise what you should have done or said just after you should have done or said it. Now, I guess, I get to experience this daily. And I have no complaints - just regrets.