We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

Spotlight on Greenlight: Strata


Welcome once again to PCGamesN’s Spotlight on Greenlight, our regular Saturday feature where we look at the best and the most interesting Greenlight games that are hoping to make their way onto Steam. We’ve already looked at dozens of other titles in weeks past, so do take a look at our back catalogue.

You may already think that the PC is saturated with coloured ribbon weaving simulators. Rare is the time that you go into a video game store and your vision isn’t swapped with copies Weaver Simulator 2002 through to 2013, or box sets The Threader trilogy, but Strata makes the case for one more entry into the genre.

A deceptively simple puzzler, Strata has you thread together coloured ribbons to a calming soundtrack, creating pretty nets of densely weaved patterns. It’s small, satisfying, and has a demo.

The aim of Strata is a simple one: each puzzle is constructed of a small grid with a number of the squares coloured in, you must thread the grid with ribbons corresponding to the squares’ colour. Once all the coloured squares are covered then you complete the level.

Of course, this simple aim is complicated by the fact that when a grid is composed of multiple different colours and threading a ribbon over the grid colours an entire row of squares, meaning you’ll often cover two differering coloured squares with the same thread, and then have to weave over the squares from another direction to fit the blend, and, oh, it all gets difficult fast.

See how it works in this handy trailer:

The game begins simply with grids of 2×2 where you only have two colours to work with. Rapidly the grids expand in size and the number of colours you have to work with increases. The challenge becomes one of seeing a way to hit each individual colour square without undoing the work of previous turns – turning one colour that you’ve managed to thread correctly into another while colouring its neighbour. At the heart of the game is discerning the sequence of ribbon placement.

This is a puzzle game where the order of placement is what you’ll spend your time working out. It’s not a puzzle game where the challenge changes from level to level, you’re always solving the same kind of puzzle, it’s just one which alters slightly each time.

Despite the repeated task, Strata didn’t get stale in the time I spent with the game. Rather, I was drawn in to its increasing challenge – the learning curve is pitched just right – despite it’s repetition.

The game looks excellent, a mix of simple shapes, lack of clutter, and strong colours combine to make a pretty aesthetic. The music, too, is nothing ostentatious, just a calming piece that works with the look of the game and the meat of the mechanics to create a methodical playing process. You simply keep working through the puzzles, meeting the rising challenge each time.

You can see what I mean in Strata’s demo.

Strata’s nets of coloured ribbon, that you create with every solution, struck me as like Hotline Miami’s massacres, where, at the end of each level, you had to walk back to your car, through the bloody mess you’d made working through the building. At the end of each puzzle in Strata you’re left with a visual solution of overlapping threads that you created. It’s immensely satisfying. As a design feature it turns your play into a creative process, you marked the solution to the puzzle. With many games, when you play through a level you leave behind a trail of how you completed a challenge – it might be the bullet holes, bodies, and rocket blasts that shows a broad daylight assault on a pillar box; or skid marks round a hairpin bend; or an ideally placed set of factories and resource miners in a strategy game – but you aren’t often encouraged to look at it.

What originally caught my eye as a simple coloured ribbon weaving game, a casual thing that would look nice and hold my attention for a couple of minutes, has turned out to be a greatly addictive puzzle game.

Because we need everyone on Steam to be similarly enthralled by the game of netting threads together, let’s get Strata through Steam. Go on, give Strata a bump on Greenlight.