There are a few key ways to increase the difficulty of a puzzle game. You could add new rules that limit player options or strange hazards that shift their strategies. You can also just add a metric crap-ton of variables to track. Schwerkraftprojektionsgerät, a game by Stephen Lavelle, does exactly that by cranking Tetris up to eleven.
Tetris already employs a variety of tricks to keep expert players on their guard. Tetromino blocks fall at increased speed on high levels and lock immediately into place when they land. Tetris’ complexity largely comes from demanding players act faster and with confidence. But what if there were so much to track that playing confidently was all but impossible? Schwerkraftprojektionsgerät adds three playing fields to track, each in a cardinal direction. On top of that, every block goes into each section simultaneously, and its placement and orientation are static across sections. For instance, a T-shaped block can land on its flat on one field but that means it will land on its middle segment on the opposing field. Success in one area often means creating problems in the other. The fun comes from trying to tackle these complications and watching as failures mount up to absurd levels.
It’s not entirely messy, however. Blocks don’t fall until you decide to drop them down, meaning that you have plenty of time to line up a smart move on multiple axes. Schwerkraftprojektionsgerät follows in the footsteps of Lavelle’s other games, most notably Stephen’s Sausage Roll, where it’s more important to move intelligently through game space than it is to rush to fast solutions.
Lavelle publishes games under the name Increpare, a variation of the Latin word for “rebuke.” Even in something like a Tetris remix, there’s a sense of experimenting, exploring, rebuking the common in exchange for the strange. Schwerkraftprojektionsgerät takes a design that is instantly familiar to most players and makes it fantastically silly. Hop in, play, fail, and enjoy. That’s the point.