Puddle Hands On

Toronto’s 2011 edition of FanExpo showcased many interesting and entertaining events and games –, a couple of which stood out in my mind.  One of those games was Puddle, a Konami title coming out for the XBLA/PSN, shown to us off-site at the Konami Gamers’ Night 2011 at Real Sports Bar’s upper lounge.

Puddle has a very simple concept that produces extremely fun and challenging puzzles.  The player is given a puddle of liquid that must be maneuvered through a maze while avoiding various obstacles.  To do so, the player must make use of the left and right bumpers on their controller to tilt the maze and change the down direction.  Pressing the right button gives the maze a 45 degree tilt, whereas pressing the left button does the same in the opposite direction.

I was able to play three levels and observe a few others.  The first of which had me maneuvering a simple puddle of water through pipes with fire obstacles.  If my puddle landed on an open flame, or rested too long on a heated section of pipe, it evaporated.  If too much liquid was lost, game over.  And the water evaporates quickly (sometimes too quickly).  The speed with which obstacles destroy your puddle in combination with the tilt mechanism leads to a style of gameplay where the player relies more on intuition than strategy, resulting in fast-paced levels that are each only a minute or two long on a successful attempt.  The later levels involve different kinds of liquid, such as an herbicide that must be navigated through trees, killing vines that block the path while dodging radioactive fungus.

At the end of each successful level the player is given a rating based on how long they took to navigate the puzzle and how much of their puddle is left.  The ratings given have a very scientific feel to them, ranging from Cu (copper) to Au (gold).  While admittedly the best I was able to achieve was a Cu rating (stupid fires ruining my puddles), the charts and graphs showing the make-up of my score were interesting and I was never left feeling overly frustrated by the challenges.  However, if ever there is a level that proves unbeatable, the player is presented with a limited number of Whines, which can be used to whine at the game to allow the player to skip a particularly difficult level.

All in all, I found the demo of Puddle to be highly enjoyable, whether I was manipulating the tilt to hit switches or dodge puddle-killing obstacles, I had a blast.  I only wish I had been able to play more.  I will definitely be trying this out when it appears on the market, and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good physics puzzler.  Puddle releases for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network this November.

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September 9, 2011 - 8:30 am