Game Review: Puddle (PS Vita)

Puddle PS Vita

Puddle is a physics based puzzle game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS Vita. Puddle originated as an entry for the Independent Gaming Festival at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in 2010, which received a Student Showcase prize. The PS Vita version of the game is a port of the PS3 version, which was released six months earlier although it unfortunately does not feature any Cross Buy, Cross Play or Cross Save functionality.

Puddle challenges you to retain as close to 100% of the liquid that you start out each level with. The concept is made particularly original as you have to tilt the environment in order to move the puddles of liquid, so you are effectively controlling the environment to create a reaction from the liquid thus creating a feeling that it is almost as though the environment is the real character, rather than the puddles. There are a total of forty-nine levels spread across eight environments each containing six levels with an additional unlockable level to round off the count of forty-nine levels. There is a short but sweet cut scene before the first level of each environment that shows the purpose of how the environment contains its particular elements. The loading screens before each level provide an insight into the elements of each liquid with details on the type of liquid, particularity in regards to how the liquid dissolves and tips on how to move the liquid efficiently.

There are different types of liquids including coffee, water, oil, nitroglycerin, molten lava and even weed killer, amongst many others that all contain their own properties that react differently to the surrounding environments. Each level contains various traps and hazards with elements such as flames attempting to dissolve the liquid, gaps in the environment that liquid can become trapped within, spills, venus fly traps and many more resulting in you having to ensure that the liquid is moving slower or faster depending upon the element that is trying to destroy it, which results in you having to take varying approaches to different levels and in some cases from one area to another in the same level.

The indicator informs you as to how close you are to not having enough liquid remaining to complete the level. If you lose too much liquid you will see the blue puddle of liquid in the indicator progressively drops and if it drops below the red marker, then you will not be able to complete the level. The game can be rather frustrating at times with rather harsh difficulty spikes even to the point of having to restart when you were merely seconds away from completing the level, but fear not as you can use up to four “whines” to skip levels of your choice that you find particularly frustrating and difficult, although you can still revisit that level at a later time to earn the whine back by completing the level. Upon selecting a level, you are provided with a menu detailing the name of the level, your best score, your best time, the amount of bonus particles that you have successfully achieved, the medal you have received and the time you will have to beat in order to receive the next best medal. The medals range from a normal green tick if you have completed the level without hitting all of the appropriate targets to achieve a medal; followed by bronze, silver and gold medals depending upon your time and the amount of liquid you have been able to retain.

The controls consist purely of tilting the world in order to move the liquid and you are provided with four sets of control preferences as you can use the Vita’s motion sensing capabilities; the rear touch pad; the left analogue stick or the L and R buttons, along with the select button to restart the level and start to pause. All four sets of controls work very well, so it is more about the player experimenting with their favourite type of controls in order to find the appropriate and most comfortable configuration.

Graphically, the environments, hazards, traps, elements and puddles of liquid are beautifully detailed. The environments range in scale and content with the standout backdrop being an x-ray of the human body. The audio consists of a soundtrack of thought provoking music, alongside such sound effects as the rushing and splashing of liquid as it travels through the environment and the sizzling of liquid as it passes through or nearby flames that really bring you into the experience in regards to the importance of keeping the liquid away from certain elements that would harm it.

The presentation of the game is solid with a great touch screen based user interface. The heads up display (HUD) can be customised to your liking with no indicator; an indicator or an indicator and timer, which allows you to effectively choose whether you want a full HUD or a clear screen. In a puzzle game of this nature that can be a massive help to have a clear screen or an added challenge by having to judge for yourself in regards to how much liquid you have actually retained and the amount of time remaining, so it depends upon your personal preferences, but I would personally recommend a full HUD. There are puzzles during the menus, which is a very positive and interesting design choice as it brings a level of interactivity to the menus and actually adds to the gameplay. The puzzles consist of moving liquid through funnels as you attempt to retain 100% of the liquid that you started with. You will know when you have completed a puzzle successfully as the steam counter will turn green and another colour of liquid will be released to start the following puzzle, although if you have failed in your attempt to retain 100% of the liquid; you will see the steam counter turn red and the same colour of liquid will be released for you to try again.

The trophy list includes fourteen trophies with eleven bronze trophies, two silver trophies and one gold trophy. The trophies are mostly earned naturally through completing all of the levels the game has to offer, such as the “Watercourse: absorbed” bronze trophy for reaching the end of the watercourse chapter, although this is difficult to judge as certain levels can be particularly frustrating resulting in eight bronze trophies hanging in the balance. However, there are even more difficult trophies including the “Gold rush” gold trophy for earning all of the forty-eight gold medals. I would estimate depending upon skill and whether you have a trophy guide to provide some tips for the best methods of how not to drop any of your particles for the “Green peace” silver trophy or how to guarantee earning all forty-eight gold medals for the “Gold rush” gold trophy that it would take between ten to fifteen hours to 100% the trophy list.

The online leaderboards focus on the overall world ranking, friends ranking and local ranking based upon the total time you have taken to complete the levels with each leaderboard containing each players’ rank, name (PSN ID) and overall time.

The replayability of Puddle is undeniable as the online leaderboards and medals provide an additional layer to the pick up and play focus of the game that works in harmony with the short period of time it takes to complete each level. The various environments and elements of the liquid make each of the levels feel unique, which certainly helps to make the game feel consistently fresh and keeps bringing you back for more. There is certainly a lot of gameplay here with forty-nine levels across eight different environments, despite the lack of any Cross Buy, Cross Play and Cross Save functionality.

Overall, despite the lack of any connections with the PS3 version of the game via Cross Buy, Cross Play or Cross Save functionality; the PS Vita version of Puddle certainly packs a lot of content that will have you coming back time after time for just one more go whether it is to earn a faster time, a better medal or a higher leaderboard position; there is certainly motivation to return to the game. With forty-nine levels spread across eight environments; Puddle is a worthy physics based puzzle game that I would highly recommend to anyone that is a fan of puzzle games, especially for exceptional value at £5.49.

Jason Bonnar

At A Glance

  • Title: Puddle
  • Publisher: Konami
  • System: PS Vita
  • Format: PSN Download
  • Cross Buy: No
  • Cross Play: No
  • Online Multiplayer: No
  • Memory Card Space Needed: 578Mb

 

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About Simon Plumbe 842 Articles
Husband, father and lifelong geek. Originally from the West Midlands, now spending my days in South Wales with my family and a house full of animals. Passionate about video games, especially retro gaming, the Commodore 64 and PlayStation Vita. Love pro wrestling, sci-fi and I'm an animal lover and vegetarian.Enjoyed this and my other articles? Why not buy me a coffee: http://ko-fi.com/simonplumbe

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