We all know penguins are cute, waddling, non-flying birds. What many of us don’t know, however, is that they are devious creatures that come in a rainbow of colors.
Pengi’s cute snow globe world of adorable penguins is a deceptive facade. This puzzle game is extremely easy to learn, but difficulty ramps up quickly. Each puzzle requires that penguins end up in a square of the same color. The first 8 puzzles serve as a tutorial, introducing you to the icons and the simple mechanics. Penguins slide until they hit the side of the play space, a mound of snow, or another penguin. Colliding with another penguin transfers energy to that bird, and many puzzles require that you play a bit of shuffleboard to succeed. Puzzles allow a fixed number of moves, with handy buttons for taking a step back or resetting entirely.
At the outset, puzzles are extremely simple. I made it through the first 8 levels (of 8 puzzles each) in 30 minutes, with little difficulty. Each level allows you three hints, which give away the next successful move and, if you are still stumped, you can jump to any other puzzle in the level. Once you’ve solved all 8, it’s on to the next set.
Pengi boasts 64 levels in each of Normal and Expert modes (for a total of 1,024). The Expert puzzles are extremely challenging, but AVAR was kind enough to up the hint count to 5 to soften the pain.
In addition to all of this content, there is a survival Challenge mode, which challenges players to complete as many puzzles as possible before time runs out. The game starts with 10 seconds on the clock, with more points awarded for speedy completion. I found this provided a different kind of challenge, as the puzzles were largely easier, but required faster reaction. However, the turn limit is still in place, meaning you need to find the specific solution quickly. Sliding around randomly wastes valuable time.
Free play mode allows you to go back and replay any solved puzzle with unlimited hints, giving you a good practice arena.
As with all puzzle games, Pengi does its best to trick players. Often, there will be more penguins on the board than you need to be concerned with. These red herrings start and end without ever being moved or coming into contact with another penguin. You’ll also need to use penguins as buffers, up against the wall, to line up a slide into a solution. Unfortunately, these slight variations are all you get. There are no new traps or bonuses introduced after the first level. All that changes is the difficulty. For many, this lack of variety will cause enjoyment to diminish after the first hour or two. In this regard, Pengi is a case of quantity over quality.
The visuals are simple, but get the job done. One major complaint about the game is the music. After the first few minutes, I was ready to switch over to the tunes on my iPhone. Unfortunately, entering the game locks out the music functions, even if you turn off the game sounds and background music entirely. The same music plays in every mode. It would benefit the game to include a more upbeat track for Challenge mode to accompany the race against the clock.
For puzzle fanatics, Pengi is a great value, boasting over 100,000 puzzles at only $1.99 in the App Store. It feels very familiar, reminding me of the blocks-on-ice puzzles in Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and other games. It’s harder to recommend for those less smitten with puzzle titles, especially because of the music. With the simple addition of a custom music feature, Pengi would go from “good” to “great.” Not sure if it’s right for you? There is a “lite” version in the App store.
Review copy provided by publisher.