Puddle is a physics based puzzle game that requires you to navigate your splash of liquid through various levels and past a range of threats.
On the surface Puddle is a very simple game, get the liquid from the starting point to the end point losing as little as possible. You only have two buttons – tilt the screen either left or right. If only it was that easy. Simplicity is at the heart of all great puzzle games and provides a good learning curve with a multitude of complex levels down the line. Mobile games have perfected this type of gameplay and this game with the tilted control scheme feels as though it should have been on a smartphone.
The levels vary quite a lot as you progress through the game with different environments and a range of liquids that each have their own strengths and weaknesses. For example water will evaporate easily when moving over hot areas and fertilizer will cause certain plants to grow on contact. These reactions have an effect on gameplay and each level is built specifically to provide a challenge to that particular liquid. The game can be quite frustrating at times (as all puzzle games tend to be) but this fact is mitigated slightly with the introduction of Whines. If you can’t get past a level you can use one of your Whine cards and skip the level. Although you only have 3 whine cards you can go back and complete a level at a later stage and get your Whine card back.
Puddle looks great albeit understated with an dark subdued style. The varied environments provide a constantly changing palette of colours and lighting while maintaining the black silhouette style made popular by games like World of Goo and Limbo.
While the level design is not particularly complex the back grounds are well designed with a lot of interesting detail. Puddle does a great job of creating beautifully styled levels regardless of the environment. The two dimensional paper level is a great example of this. Sound plays an important role as it acts as an aural warning sign when you water starts interacting with something on the level (sizzling as it moves over a hot element). The soundtrack is decent although the ability to import custom music would have been a great option.
Story / Campaign
Puddle doesn’t have a story of any sort and lacks some sort of intro or meta narrative but it does have two different game modes to keep you playing. The first is the main game where you progress through various levels using different liquids across different obstacles This is the heart of the game and where you will spend 90% of your time, with the levels getting particularly challenging near the end of the game!
As you complete each stage you are given a rating of Cu, Ag, or Au (Copper, Silver, or Gold, of course). These ratings are based on how quickly you complete each stage, not just how much liquid you have left. Performing well and earning Gold and Silver medals will net you some unlockables in the game’s second mode – Laboratory mode. This mode lets you play around with various liquids and environmental objects as you unlock them to experiment with the game’s physics system. While the puzzles are sure to keep you challenged for quite a while I wasn’t drawn to replaying the game to better my scores a second time.
Puzzle was developed by Neko Entertainment and published by Konami. Our review is based on the PC version (Steam). It is also available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PS Vita and WiiU.