Tic-Tac-Toe Review
Tic_Tac_Toe Box Art
System: Pen & Paper, Flash
Dev: Ancient Egypt?
Pub: The Roman Empire
Release: ????
Players: 2
Screen Resolution: 3x3
A Horrible Nightmare
by Shelby Reiches

Every so often, a game comes across my desk so simple, so broken, that there's little I can do other than shake my head and shed a single, silent tear. This was one such time. The game? Tic-Tac-Toe. The objective? Simple and straightforward: Playing as either "X"s or "O"s, alternate turns with an opponent until either the three-by-three grid had been completely filled or one of us had managed to place three of our symbol in a row.

Tic_Tac_Toe Screenshot

Problems became immediately apparent, as "X" would always go first. This led to a tremendous argument over who would get to play from such an advantageous position. Twelve hours later, my opponent adjusting his sling and holding a slab of cold meat to his swollen eye, it was agreed that I would go first.


Initially, gameplay was fast-paced and enjoyable. It seemed a fairly even endeavor, with a surprising amount of depth in how one placed one's marks. We developed an in-depth, heavily psychological meta-game. Over time, however, a few successful patterns emerged, and we caught ourselves attempting to maneuver one another into them so that we could claim victory.

Tic_Tac_Toe Screenshot

Then we had our first tie. A "Cat's Game," as the rules called it. This draw opened the floodgates: it was so simple, so easy to accomplish defensively, that the game became wholly impossible to win, as long as one's opponent was paying attention. We continued for hours, days, attempting to find a new tack, anything that would grant us victory, but the small board and two-dimensional gameplay had proven unsuited to the task.

In frustration (and disgust; my opponent's steak had gone rancid and become home to a burgeoning family a maggots), I issued a mandate from on high that, never again, shall Tic-Tac-Toe be played in my house.

Tic_Tac_Toe Screenshot

I wanted to love Tic-Tac-Toe—its elegant simplicity, the hints within it of a greater strategic meta-game—but these promises of greater depth were left unfulfilled, my desire un-sated. Tic-Tac-Toe is not a bad game, in the most literal sense, but it is a journey, a path, down which lies only deceit and the madness that begets. Tic-Tac-Toe is that crawling, creeping horror, a destroyer of friendships and purveyor of decay.

Speaking of decay, might I borrow a shovel? It turns out holding a rotten steak to one's wound for hours on end is not conducive to one's health, and I may need to dig a shallow grave.

Shelby Reiches
Contributing Writer
Date: April 1, 2012

The "X"s? Static, straight lines. The "O"s are beautiful, rounded perfection, and the grid is absolute.
Input is immediate, with perfect visual feedback. Not accommodating for those with poor fine motor skills, though.
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
There is only silence to greet you, and the occasional scratch of pen on paper as you make your tally. This provides ample opportunity for one's mind to wander, to conceive of other-worldly horrors not meant for man's conception.
Play Value
Playable, at first. This is an act of guile, though, and deception on its part. It soon becomes an indecipherable mess, as draw game after draw game piles up on your conscience, rending your sanity asunder.
Overall Rating - ????
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
Review Rating Legend
0.1 - 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 3.5 - 3.9 = Good 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair 4.0 - 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Play as "X" and lead the charge: conquer the heretical "O"s with superior positioning and your powerful intellect.
  • Command the "O"s, defending you besieged land against a litany of pointed "X" troops; guard your idyllic way of life against their militaristic might.
  • Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Tic-Tac-Toe R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

    *The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*

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