Puddle Review
Posted by PlayDevil.com Staff on Feb 16, 2012 11:26
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Written by: Ian
Is Puddle a damp squib?
"Puddle" is a little physics based puzzle game that snuck onto the XBLA early this year. Is it a damp squib, or should you be opening the floodgates to download this one?
Puddle has no real story as such- you start as a cup of coffee, but then once spilled, you just go- and then the game makes pretty much no sense from then on as you progress through the levels. Some story would have been nice, although the indie, relaxed feel of the game means that you won’t be too bothered.
Once the game starts, it just leaves you there. No on-screen tutorial or anything. It took me a minute or two to figure out a) I could actually start playing and b) that the only controls were LT & RT to move the screen. I can see it would affect the visual style of the game, but at the same time, it was an annoyance to have no idea, especially as the game has bad loading times, with some pretty useless hints on what to do.
Puddle XBLA screenshot #1
With just two buttons used, the game is easy to get to grips with, but fiendishly difficult to master thanks to the physics of the water. Even on the first level, the game introduces various traps, the most annoying of which quickly become fire/ heat. This means many parts of levels have a timed element to them, but also require precision control.
Generally, within a couple of levels, you will need to spend a few attempts at each level in order to memorise what you need to do. For a game with an otherwise relaxed feel to it, this extreme level of difficulty makes the game very frustrating very quickly. The boss levels at the end of each zone also have an actual time limit to them, which is normally pretty stingy, again, making the frustration levels higher than they really need to be. I’ll admit I didn’t finish puddle- it was just too difficult.
Puddle XBLA screenshot #2
The game lets you ‘whine’ and skip levels, but you only have a limited number before you have to go back and finish an earlier level in order to progress. I would say that the average gamer will get less than halfway through before they get hopelessly stuck.
Graphics / Sound:
Puddle looks real nice. It reminds me a little of some of the other big indie titles like Braid or ITSP- it has a simple but distinctive style that just works. It never strains the system, but it looks right, all the time. The physics also work well, and the camera and screen movement as you tilt is incredibly fluid and nicely integrated. The game has a number of different background and traps to mix things up as well, and they all look decent as well. In a crazy way, the water is probably one of the worst looking parts of the game, as it lacks a little transparency, although I guess that would have made it more difficult to see.
Puddle XBLA screenshot #3
The sound adds to the relaxed feel, with some nice, soothing music that you can barely filter in at the edges of your consciousness, although it ramps up nicely for the timed boss levels. The water also sounds nice as it runs through the various gulleys, gutters and pipes. There’s nothing special here, but I can’t imagine the game doing anything different or how it could be done much better.
"Puddle" is a nice idea, but rather ruined by its brutal difficulty level. With a more forgiving difficulty level, this would have been a nice, interesting physics-based puzzler, but instead its super frustrating. If you’re a hardcore puzzle fan, then this is probably a pretty good choice. For any casual fans, I’d stay clear, because you’ll just get stuck early on. The fact the game look and controls so well will only add to your annoyance at what could have been!
+ Nice visual style
+ Can be relaxing
+ Good physics
- No story
- No multiplayer
- Hard