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Vira is an excellent and unique puzzler from Nikita, one of Russia's best game developers that is practically unknown abroad. Like all good puzzle games, the game is easy to learn, but hard to master. In this level-based brainteaser, your goal on each level is to fit all cargo onto the ship and make sure the boat is balanced before setting sail.
The gameplay is very easy to learn, and the interface is intuitive. You are presented with the isometric view of the loading dock and the ship. You click on the arrow keys to move the crane, then left-click on the crane icon to lift the cargo below. Then you can rotate the cargo by right-clicking it, move the crane over to the ship, and click on the crane icon again to drop the cargo onto the ship. This is not a simple game of "fit different shapes in a square", however. Different types of cargo not only have different shapes, but also different weights. You must therefore balance the load on the boat to keep it balanced at the end. If the cargo in the back weighs more than the front, then the side-view picture of the ship at the bottom of the screen will show a tilting ship, and you must rearrange the cargo. A top-down diagram of the ship and the picture scale help you see the overall layout of the ship, and how much each cargo weighs.
There are dozens of levels categorized into 3 difficulty groups: easy, medium, and hard. You can play any of the 3 groups at any time, but you must play levels within each group in order. The groups are represented by 3 types of workers: on easy levels, your role is a menial worker in the ancient world tasked with loading merchandise onto a small boat. On these levels, the cargo are usually small, i.e. either 1x1 or 2x2 (# of tiles it occupies), and you don't need to rotate them very often. The medium levels put you in the role of a soldier who must load different types of army units (infantry, horses, cannons, etc.) onto a medieval-stype ship. The cargos are bigger, have many more different weights and shapes. Lastly, the difficult levels cast you as a modern-day engineer who must load different pipe segments onto a big ship. These levels are the hardest, because you must rotate almost every segment, and watch the ship balance very carefully.
If you enjoy brainteasers, Vira will keep you entertained for hours with its unique and interesting premise, smooth execution, and pleasant graphics. The game is in Russian, but there is very little text to get in the way of gameplay. All in all, another wonderful puzzler from the country famous for them.
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