I’m *really* enjoying *Str8ts *and I highly recommend it to fellow number crunchers. It’s exactly what I was looking for; a layered logic game with enough depth to really make you think and enough content to make it last indefinitely.

The concept makes sense after you play, but it’s non-obvious, initially. Luckily, a thorough tutorial is included to compliment the rules explanation. The goal of the game is to fill in all of the empty white cells with numbers, while following a set of placement rules. Each white “compartment” can only legally contain a contiguous set of numbers, but they need not be in order (for instance, “2, 3, 1″ is a valid set). This is where the game gets its name; think of a straight in *Poker*. A compartment is analogous to a “run” in *Kakuro*; a set of adjacent cells, in a row or column, that is capped at both ends, either by a black slot or the board edge. The black compartments cannot be edited and simply remove a number from play, but you don’t know which number. The visible numbers in the black compartments cannot be used in the white compartments.

When you start the game, some of the white slots already have numbers placed in them and this is where to start. You look for obvious answers. For instance, if there is a 2-slot compartment that already has a 9 in it, then you know the other slot must contain an 8. If you have a 3-cell run, that contains a 4 and a 6, then you know that the missing number is a 5. After filling in each of these instances, more opportunities arise. If you have a slot in which every other number has already been used in the corresponding row and column, then you simply fill in the remaining number. Soon after, though, you’ll really need to start thinking. This is what I mean by layered logic; I’m referring to the escalating brainpower needed to solve a puzzle. In some instances, you can narrow down your possibilities, but not all the way. This is why you can mark potential candidates, to revisit later. Candidates are entered via a modal entry interface, similar to many *Sudoku *implementations, in which tiny numbers are displayed directly in the cell. This seems like it will definitely be a game where players will “plateau” at certain points, but figuring out these problems is what makes the game really challenging and engaging.

There are four difficulty levels, each of which contains enough levels to total over 750 in the entire game. The puzzles were all designed by a published puzzle designer and it shows. Don’t sleep on this one; it’s*really* good.