Puddle Review

Puddle (Available on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade)
ESRB Rating: T
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Neko Entertainment
Release Date: January 31st, 2012

Parent Talk: The ESRB rates Puddle T for teen because of fantasy violence, crude humor, and mild blood.  This is a game about getting liquid substances from the start of a level to the exit.  Sure there are tons of hazards trying to prevent you from doing that, but this isn’t a damaging game in the least.

Plays Like: LocoRoco.  You pivot the level left and right slowly moving the liquid to its desired location.

Review Basis: Finished off the PlayStation Network version of the game, but not without a lot of help.  For some reason I suck as these kinds of games, and this one is extremely tough.

Puddle is one of the best puzzles games currently available on either the PlayStation Network or Xbox Live Arcade.  It’s the easiest game you could possibly imagine to get into, but one of the toughest, most complex, puzzlers you’ll ever play.  Therein lies its charm, and why you could easily spend days doing nothing but trying to beat your high score.

The Great:

The gameplay is so elegant and refined, even though we’ve seen it all before.  All you have to do is get your puddle of liquid from the beginning of the stage to the exit.  Along the way every obstacle you can imagine will try and prevent that from happening.  All you’re armed with is the ability to shift the stage left and right.  Physics does the rest.  This simple, yet addictive gameplay had me coming back for more time and time again.  Make no mistake about it though; Puddle is extremely difficult in the later portions of the game, especially if you’re going for high scores.

The Good:

+ Highly creative level design that only continues to get more unique as you progress.  From sink pipes filled with fire pits, traveling through lavish forests, on electrical wires to spilling a coffee cup, the creativity never ceases.

+ The game’s called Puddle for a reason and not water.  Worlds are broken up into a series of stages, with each world focusing on a different liquid substance from water to liquid metal, and insecticide.  That changes the gameplay as you progress because different substances react differently to heat and gravity.

+ Boss fights are comprised of timed events where you have to escape a trap.  Some are especially creative.

+ Try to beat the clock.  Your goal is simple; reach the exit without your liquid meter dropping below the red line of doom.  Doing so may sound easy, but it really isn’t.

+ Players are allowed to skip levels by using one of their ‘Whines’.  You only have a certain number available though so you have to be smart about which levels you decide to skip.

+ Excellent use of the Move controller and Sixaxis.  While you can use the L2/R2 and LT/RT for movement, the motion controls are much more intuitive.

+ Nice presentation and audiovisual package.  The menus are streamlined and simple, and the game itself features subdued graphics and light audio that works perfectly with this kind of game.

The So-So:

+/- The difficulty ramps up to near insane levels towards the end of the game and some players may find the number of Whines short in supply.

The Ugly:

Using nitroglycerin, yeah…you can already imagine where this is going.

The Lowdown:

Puddle is a very addicting puzzle game that anyone who enjoys the genre should certainly check it.  It features a nice assortment of levels; hazards and challenge to keep puzzle fans entertained for hours.  Those who only dabble in the genre may find this one just a bit too challenging for their tastes though.  Regardless where you stand Puddle is worth checking out.

Average Score Scale: 8.0 (+/- 0.5) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 8/10 (Neutral)

Reason for +0.5 Inflation: If you’re a hardcore puzzle fan that’s looking for a challenging game to keep you occupied for quite a while.

Reason for -0.5 Deflation: If you only dabble in the genre and consider yourself more a social puzzle fan.

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