I've admired Zachtronics' complex, coding-based strategic games for a long while now, and by 'admire' I absolutely do mean that I'm too stupid to play them myself. Or perhaps I'm just daunted by the enormo-manuals and terrifying screenshots, and Zachtronics' latest, SHENZHEN I/O, does nothing to dispel that.
But boy, am I tempted to pick it up, print off the manual and dive in. The game, due out in Steam Early Access on October 6, invites you to build circuits and write code, in a "compact and powerful assembly language where every instruction can be conditionally executed". There's a 30+ page technical manual, and even a "brand-new twist" on Solitaire, so you can play a game in the game when the game becomes too challenging.
Here's a trailer:
Zachtronics' back-catalogue includes Spacechem, TIS-100 and Infinifactory, which Chris Thursten liked to the tune of 93% last year.
PC Gamer Newsletter
Sign up to get the best content of the week, and great gaming deals, as picked by the editors.
Tom loves exploring in games, whether it’s going the wrong way in a platformer or burgling an apartment in Deus Ex. His favourite game worlds—Stalker, Dark Souls, Thief—have an atmosphere you could wallop with a blackjack. He enjoys horror, adventure, puzzle games and RPGs, and played the Japanese version of Final Fantasy VIII with a translated script he printed off from the internet. Tom has been writing about free games for PC Gamer since 2012. If he were packing for a desert island, he’d take his giant Columbo boxset and a laptop stuffed with PuzzleScript games.