Physics puzzle games have seen a lot of popularity in recent years, and one of the latest additions is the PlayStation Vita version of Puddle, a game that originally saw release on the Xbox 360 and PS3. I find out if the Vita version is worth the purchase.
In essence, Puddle is a 2D physics platform puzzle game where you control any one of a number of liquids throughout the game’s 40-odd levels. The object of the game is to manipulate the environment to get most of the liquid to the end of an extremely convoluted obstacle course. Well, most of the time. Depending on the liquid, the object of the level changes, but the base idea of controlling the environment around the liquid remains the same. If you’ve ever played a game like Mercury, you’ll have a very good idea of what you’re in for.
For example, the first few levels are based around water, which is prone to being evaporated by fire. Naturally, the level is full of burny bits, and it’s up to you to navigate the water safely around the bends, runs, and pipes to avoid the ouchy parts. Later on, you control some weed killer, and it, too, has its troubles in the form of sundew plants. Even later on you’ll control liquid nitro glycerine (which everyone should otherwise know as “dynamite”) which can’t be moved too fast, blood which has to be pumped around a body, and even ink on a draftsman’s page. I’ll say this much in Puddle’s favour: you’re not going to want for variety. Because different liquids behave differently, you have to constantly change your tactics to accommodate each liquid’s peculiarities.
Puddle is a simply beautiful game. Each level has its own look and feel, and it’s easy to tell exactly which liquid you’re currently playing with not only from the color of the liquid, but from the style of the level. It would be a fairly serene game if not for one itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini factor: the game is maddeningly difficult. Depending on your tolerance for this sort of thing, this can be either an argument in favour of, or against the game. While no level is particularly long, you’ll very likely play each one just enough to make you slightly ill at the thought of playing it One. More. Time. The difficulty bar is arguably set just a smidge too high. Completing the game is certainly not unattainable. Completing it well, on the other hand…
On the Vita, you can select any one of a number of different control schemes, including using the touch screen, the rear touch pad, the shoulder buttons, and the motion sensor. Personally, I found the motion sensor the most intuitive to use, but as with all these things, your mileage may vary.
Puddle is definitely not going to be everyone’s puddle of tea (or water, or weed killer) and it definitely takes a lot more patience and care than your average game. Just completing the game is a challenge in patience, never mind going after the game’s trophies. The change in liquids means a huge variety in the way you approach the game each time, but you’re more likely to run out of composure before you run out of boredom. Still, the very nature of these challenges might keep you coming back to it, if only to figure out whether a mere pool of blood can defeat you.
Final Score: 7.5 ml of liquefied prawns out of 10
Developer: Neko Entertainment
Publisher: Neko Entertainment
Platform: PS Vita
Age Rating: 3