SEN: Seven Eight Nine review for Nintendo Switch, PC

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PC
Publisher: All 4 Games
Developer: Indie Champions
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

I’m having trouble thinking of what to write about SEN: Seven Eight Nine for a very simple reason: I keep forgetting about it moments after I put it down.

While “forgettable” is never a good adjective for a game, it’s particularly bad if we’re talking about a puzzle game like SEN. The best games the genre has to offer are the ones that you keep replaying in your head the moment you close your eyes. Tetris, of course, is the obvious example, but there have been plenty of other games over the years that fit the description. Personally, lately I’ve had Subara City on the brain, to the point I’ve even had the odd dream about it.

SEN is not the kind of game that sticks in your brain. Partly, I think, this may be by design. It prides itself on being a minimalistic puzzler that almost never explains anything that’s going on, so there’s a certain degree of complexity built in that other, simpler games don’t have. SEN isn’t exactly impossible to figure out — indeed, the early levels are as basic and easy as they come — but it never makes things totally obvious.

On top of that, the nature of the game means that it’s not the kind of thing that sticks in your brain as easily. You have a series of dots, some numbered, some not, and you have to link them in order. Again, while the early levels are pretty basic, around halfway through the difficulty ramps up, to the point you have to really plan everything out. In other words, it’s not the kind of game that lends itself to obsessing over in the same way that you would a Tetris. You’re not making move after move after move; you’re sitting there, staring at the game, until you finally make one or two moves to finish the level.

The game also has a weird attitude toward saves. Basically, you can’t stop partway through a series of levels: you either finish all of them, or you start them over from scratch, with no picking up where you left off. Even if none of the levels are that long, it still makes it harder to get into SEN. Again, if you think of the classic puzzle games, you think of ones that are designed to pick up and play — not ones that force you to play through an entire level, with the threat of redoing whole levels if you don’t finish them.

None of this, of course, means that SEN is a bad game. But it does mean that it kind of misses the mark, as puzzle games go. It will definitely make you think — but only while you’re playing it. Once you put it down, it’s not likely to stay in your memory, which makes it hard to write about — and to recommend.

All 4 Games provided us with a SEN: Seven Eight Nine Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B