Have you ever watched a puddle of liquid? Have you ever watched the forms it takes when manipulated by the environment? Yeah, me neither, but you will be paying close attention to how a pool of liquid works in the new downloadable title, Puddle.
Puddle is a unique puzzle game that has the player trying to get a puddle of liquid from one area to the next by tilting the screen left and right. The game uses only the left and right triggers. By shifting the screen, the puddle will follow the gravitational pull in that direction. It’s a rather simple concept, but you will learn really quickly that it can become very complicated.
The situations and environments are what really stand out in Puddle. You’ll be trying to get water through a series of pipes, maneuvering fertilized liquids to plants to make them grow and create new paths and even handle highly explosive Nitroglycerin. The levels are rather unique, and the art style changes with almost every area. It’s a very nice touch.
The object of the game is to, as quickly as possible, get your puddle to the end of the level with as much liquid as possible. There are hazards in the levels that can take away substance from your puddle, including fire and biting Venus Flytraps. Certain hazards will destroy particles instantly, while other hazards will only destroy particles if they stay around them for too long. It’s a fine line of precision, maneuvering while using gravity and inertia. If you have too many particles destroyed, or lose too many in the course, you have to start over from the beginning of the level.
The big problem is, even with the simple mechanic, this game can get frustratingly difficult. There are some levels I had to do at least ten times. Granted, each level is usually around two minutes long, but when you have to start all the way at the beginning again, it gets bothersome fast. It wouldn’t be so bad if there was a quick restart like Trials or Super Meat Boy, but instead, you have to sit through a loading screen and allow everything to reset. There is a skip level option that allows you to pass over two levels at a time. Once used, you will have to go back and complete a level you skipped before activating the feature again.
The game relies on trail and error in order for you to succeed. You can’t see too far ahead, and sometimes, the momentum of the puddle can be too much for you to maneuver. Some levels will require you to memorize what hazards are coming up and how to avoid them. You’re almost guaranteed to fail a few times in some levels.
There is also a mode called Laboratory. Here, you can customize the menu background with items you have unlocked via badges earned in the story mode. You can make your own course for a puddle and experiment with different combinations.
The game still has a great style to it. The levels, and what you do in some of them, really make the game. Visually, it is really unique. I just wish the game play was more relaxed like the visual style is. I still have to say, this game is really only for patient players. The art style and presentation are really impressive, and the puzzle fans that don’t get frustrated too easily will have a decent time with Puddle.
Review copy of the game provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.