“World of Goo” was the last puzzle game to weird me out and as a parent, that’s pretty hard to do. “Puddle”, while similar, isn’t so much as weird as it is unique in that it offers gameplay mechanics that I don’t often see in my travels as a games journalist. Instead of ferrying lemmings or balls of goo from start to finish, you’ll be manipulating the camera to manuever a puddle of fluid (hence the title) around the environment. Before we get started, I’d like to thank Sébastien Chipot-Delys from Neko Entertainment for providing me with a free review copy.
The main menu allows the player to play the campaign, mess around with laboratory mode, and adjust game options. Players will also be able to compare scores and medals via a leaderboard. The options menu gives the player the ability to adjust audio levels, enable the fluid indicator and/or timer on the HUD, and customize the control scheme. The ability to set screen resolution, full screen, aspect ratio, vertical sync, and language is available via a window pop-up that appears when starting the game. The ability to set up multiple profiles is there, which is a bonus for the other gamers in my household. Controller support is available via a USB controller or Bluetooth. Lastly, you can view a slide show which will help to prime you for the core mechanics of the game.
The game offers a total of forty-nine levels (playable via normal and extreme difficulty settings) which thrust the player through different types of environments. As such, the type of fluid you’ll be guiding throughout the environment will change appropriately. For example, the player will be tasked with guiding lava through a foundry or weed killer throughout a forest of sorts. While the primary goal is to get the puddle from the beginning of the level to the end, you’ll be trying to do it in a way that minimizes the amount of fluid the puddle loses in the process. The more fluid you save and the faster you complete levels, the better your score. Skipping levels is possible, but you’ll have a limited number of “whines” (skips) before you have to go back and complete ones you skipped. As a side note, I was impressed by the visuals on each level and often stopped what I was doing to admire the artwork and scenery.
In terms of physics, things couldn’t get more realistic. Rather than control a cursor or guide the fluid directly, you’ll be turning the camera around (and thus the general direction of gravity) to manipulate its movements. It was fun to watch the fluid ooze its way around objects as I tilted the camera one way or the other. What I found to be challenging (and refreshing) was that speed plays a role in how your puddle gets around the environment. I found that allowing the puddle to pick up too much speed caused small droplets to be left behind, reducing my overall score at the end of the level. Not going fast enough might cause the puddle to miss a jump or simply start evaporating, depending on the fluid involved. The challenge behind “Puddle” is that of balance and all about finessing your way to the finish line.
Laboratory mode is a nice touch, giving the player the freedom to create an environment to play around in. Those of you who have invested heavily in the “Crazy Machines” series will understand the application and appeal behind creating your own levels. You’ll be able to spawn different objects and position them the way you’d like, as well as assign different backgrounds and fluids to the mix. It doesn’t allow you to create full-fledged levels, rather, it lets you play around with different objects and themes as you unlock them. You’ll need to play the campaign thoroughly to get the most out of this mode, as most of the objects are locked from the get go.
In the end, “Puddle” is a fantastic puzzle game that offers stunning visuals and a simplicity that allows it to appeal to players of all ages. While the mechanics are simple, the game will still challenge you and give you a sense of satisfaction when you complete a particularly difficult level. In my opinion, it is worth the $9.99 purchase (as of 2/5/13). I recommend giving it a spin!
Final Verdict: 8/10
You can learn more about and purchase “Puddle” by visiting the following websites:
You can view video play sessions here: