6 Overall Score

The graphics rock and it is built on solid science!

Too hard and you never feel like you accomplish!

Written by on February 7, 2012 in [, , , , , ]

There is a puzzle game with great graphics, simple controls, many levels that uses physics. Sounds like something a NerdMom would absolutely love, right? Well, I thought that would be the case but alas… not so much.

Puddle, published by Konami, started out as a student project that won the Student Showcase award at GDC 2010. It is very simple in its theory. You are simply guiding puddles of liquid through some very nice looking levels. You use the left and right triggers to tilt the world. Each group of levels has its own liquid (water, herbicide, oil, etc) with their own characteristics and their own obstacles. Your goal is to get to the end of the level with a predetermined minimum of liquid.

Some of these obstacles are unavoidable and are dealt with by speed. For example low heat is unavoidable in areas of the first group. As long as the water doesn’t stay on it very long you will have very little loss. But there are other dangers and obstacles that must be avoided but splashing, tipping, etc. A water example of that would be the high heat flames. You have to tip back and forth until you work up the momentum to jump over the flame as much as you can. You hope that you haven’t lost too much water.

So I start playing and I get through the first level ok. Then I get to the second level and I am not quite sure how I am expected to get through. So I look through the information and I don’t see any kind of real information! You know, types of moves you might need to make or things you can do. So I go back to playing and after hours of play I am left puzzled. I think that I can’t stand this game but I can’t put my finger on why. So I scratch it up to the fact that I stink (which is just how life goes;) and it’s just sour grapes. I mean, I love the elements yet just am not getting any real enjoyment. I was moving through the levels and accomplishing thing but was just left frustrated, very stressed and not happy.

So I bring in my much smarter and skilled husband to play and I figure that he is going to love this game. My frustration must just be me, right? Wrong! Once he starts playing he starts moving through the levels much faster than I did (no shock). He also has levels that he had no idea how he cleared. It doesn’t take long before his frustration is clearly evident too!

So what is the problem? I think that it is too hard all the time so there is no sense of true accomplishment or mastery. There are three levels of accomplishment: screwed, slightly screwed and getting through the level. Screwed is when you have no idea how to get through the level. Slightly screwed is you can get to the end of the level and lose. You might have an idea of how you can do better and actually complete the level but it could take some more work to get through. And lastly, you might actually complete the level! You might know how you got through the level or not. I have gotten through levels that I am not sure that I could clear again and I am not quite sure how I did it the first time.

I feel whiny to say it is too hard all the time but it is. You need to feel a sense of accomplishment when you complete a level. Not necessarily a silly show like having a flag go up a pole and fireworks but a sense of mastery. I still feel guilty for not loving this game because the nerd in me says I should but when all boils down, it is a disappointing video game.

A copy of Puddle was provided to The Married Gamers for review and evaluation.


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Author: Jacqueline C. View all posts by

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