Puzzle games. They range from the simple, to the overtly complex. Be it figuring out how to get a complex machine working, to guiding a small marble through a labyrinthine mazes, puzzle games come in many shapes and sizes.
Developed and published by Neko Entertainment
Available on the PS3, PS Vita, Xbox 360 and Wii U. Reviewed on the Wii U.
*Review copy provided by Neko.
Neko Entertainment’s Puddle is as simplistic as they come, with only one goal in mind: to successfully guide a certain amount of liquid to the end of a stage. While this alone sounds somewhat boring, the developers manage to at least keep it interesting for the duration of the puzzle game.
Managing the liquid is pretty easy, due to the game only having two controls. The left bumper is used for tilting the screen left, and the right bumper for the opposite effect. Being a physics-based title, this tilting causes the liquid to move in the direction of the tilt, slipping its way through all the obstacles in the game, including test tubes, tree branches, and more.
It sounds like this type of game would get repetitive quite quickly, but thankfully it isn’t due to the various types of liquid you’ll be using during the campaign. You’ll start out with common H20, but soon enough you’ll be guiding Nitroglycerin, weed killer, and decomposed rat and even a snow globe. Each liquid and/or container possesses wildly different characteristics, so you’ll be approaching each new stage in unique and usual ways. For example, nitroglycerin or glass containers can’t suffer large falls or else it’ll explode or break, while rat goo can stick to certain surfaces, allowing to bypass hazards underneath. It’s cool to figure out what each one does, and using it successfully to your advantage is very rewarding.
Stages are very linear affairs, with no alternate routes to take on your journey to the end goal, and unfortunately they are also all about trial-and-error. Passing a stage isn’t really about skill the skill a player has or smarts, as it instead is about learning the layout of each level by memory (especially some later stages) and navigating the ever treacherous terrain.
One thing I found pretty aggravating was the fact that most stages are too zoomed in towards the liquid, essentially blinding the player because they won’t be able to see the traps and pitfalls strewn about the stages until it’s too late to react. This can lead to frustration more that anything, as losing in a stage means an automatic restart from the very beginning. There are also no checkpoints to speak of here, so get used to restarting stages a lot. If it ever gets too frustrating, players can skip always skip stages at the cost of a “whine,” though these items are limited in the main campaign.
Puddle is quite lengthy, as it comes with more than 40 stages and leaderboards to see who can complete the stages the fastest.
Visually, the game is a blast, as all the environments and liquid types look cartoonish and detailed. Also, every so often the style of the art changes dramatically, offering some surprising and pleasant eye-candy.
The soundtrack is the game is nothing to write home about, but it does it’s job quite well. The music is fitting, and the soundbytes, be it the liquid sloshing around, machines whirling and twirling, or laser beams firing, everything sounds like it should.
At the end of the day, you find that while Puddle isn’t anything special and can sure can get frustrating at times, it’s a quick and fun entertainment experience that will keep players busy for a couple of hours.