Puddle review for PSN, XBLA

Platform: XBLA
Also on: PSN
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Neki
Medium: Digital Download
Players: 1
Online: No

Indie developers are growing day by day. Sometimes you get remarkable ones like the folks responsible for Trials and Joe Danger, and then you get others who make complete junk. Puddle was made for little money by a college student and some friends, then picked up by Konami and released on XBLA and PSN for the whole world to enjoy. While puzzle games are a dime a dozen on the download services, does Puddle bring enough puzzle to pony up the pennies on XBLA and PSN? Read on.

Puddle isn?t just a clever name as the content has merit to back it up. You start off with a bit of water as it pours onto a laboratory tilting experiment table/machine. You must use your left and right triggers to enforce the waterfall to change, alter, and flow in the direction that will not only provide momentum, but pushing away from elements that may reduce your water flow completely like a Bunsen burner or fire for instance. The visuals are charming and look quite like a mixture of Mercury Meltdown and Limbo if they had a weird puzzle baby.

The main objective in the beginning is to go from one opening to the final closing tube and upon completion you are rewarded with gold, silver, and bronze metals (using the terms on the elemental table for a quaint nerdy charm). Some levels have time limits in order to succeed, other have a certain amount of water you must reach the end with in order to finish the level. Sounds easy right? Well, I?m not like Bruce Lee and haven?t mastered how exactly to manipulate water, but take it from me, it takes patience, timing, and honestly, skill and physics knowledge to beat this brutal challenging maze puzzler. But wait?there?s more! That is just the first 5 levels my friends as the game really picks up steam when you have to factor in weight ratios, balancing physics, and even elemental properties such as acids, liquid metals that slow down when cooling and so much more. These additional properties come into play and will really test the big 3; your complex puzzle solving skills, your senses and reflexes. What?s more, each level just starts rolling, with no direction, no explanation of the elements you are dealing with, no preview at the course ahead, and no warning of what dangers or obstacles are coming.

To say you won?t be beating many of these in one try is an understatement. If you just can?t cut the puzzle and really want to move on, the game does provide what they call ?whines? that will allow you to skip a level and move onto the next. Be aware though that you are only offered a couple of these and once you?ve utilized your ?whines? you will not be able to advance forward anymore without sucking it up and completing the level on your own.

Puddle has quite a few ?puzzles? to contend with that will keep your fingers nimble and your noggin fresh. While no multiplayer modes are present, the game, like most similar puzzlers, relies not only on its complexity, but leaderboard high scores as well. You have 8 environments to move through, each containing 6 levels for each. Each level has a unique objective, not only for time and leftover liquids, but for how well you accomplish them, and you can compare with friends on Xbox Live and PSN.

How Puddle remains as a game for you will depend on your skills and also your ability to work with physics and the elements. If you feel you have a very strong grasp on them, then this game is right up your physics alley. Otherwise, the complexity, Big Bang Theory elemental wit, and strict learning curve may act as a deterrent to many puzzle novices. I for one donate this game to science, as I?m a better gamer than number cruncher?well played nerds?well played.

Grade: B