"Tougher Than It Looks"
The last few years puzzle games have made a huge splash. Usually these games are simple to pick up and learn but hard to master, which in turn guarantees that both casual and hardcore gamers will enjoy their time. Konami recently decided to take a stab at the puzzle genre with its Xbox LIVE / PlayStation Network title Puddle.
Puddle is fairly straight forward; you tilt the world right or left in order to navigate a body of water through an environment. At first, this seems like an easy idea, but as the game progresses, it becomes hard and sometimes frustrating.
The game starts off with a silhouetted man drinking a cup of coffee. He puts the cup down and the game begins. Right off the bat it is a bit confusing because the game neglects to really give you any idea on what your objective is or how to play. By tapping random buttons I eventually found out that I needed to hit the R2 and L2 buttons to tilt the world back and forth. By tilting the world left to right you can build up enough momentum in the water to knock the cup over and have the water spill over onto the floor.
The entirety of the game has you navigating your body of water through obstacles in order to reach the exit to the level. Each world contains about ten levels and each world has a different theme and water type. The main issue is that the game never really tells you how things work; as you get further into the game, you are introduced to new water colors and other factors that never get any kind of explanation. The entire game is based around you finding out how to play and what to do. Puddle does have an option if you find a level too hard called "whine and skip". This option, of course, lets you skip a level if you feel you are having a difficult time trying to pass it. The problem with this option is that if you try to skip too many levels, eventually they make you go back and play uncompleted levels in order to progress, which puts limits on casual players who may not be very good at puzzle games or gaming in general.
Make no mistake. On the surface, Puddle looks easy, but it's a pretty hard game. Controlling the water can be really difficult at times, especially since your water gets separated and split from the rest of the body, making it frustrating. If you lose too much water, you will have to restart the level, so to avoid this you must build momentum to jump gaps, avoid fire, and other obstacles that may hinder your progress.
The game doesn't feature any multiplayer or other special modes. There is a mode accessible from the main menu called "laboratory", but it is kind of pointless. Laboratory mode basically lets you mess around with objects and background while running water over them; it doesn't really serve a purpose to the overall game experience. There is only one single-player mode with about 100 levels. That may sound like a lot of content, but trust me when I say that these levels fly by really quickly, making the game feel very short.
Puddle has some interesting ideas and some players may find it engaging, but it can get really frustrating. The lack of longevity and interesting game modes can also be a problem for some and may steer them away from a game like this. Still, if you're looking for an interesting and unique game to pass the time and don't mind a little frustration now and again, you should check out Puddle.
GameDynamo's Score for Puddle (PS3)
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