The beauty of video games is in their simplicity. Flashy graphics and big budget advertisements can’t make a game any more fun than it truly is. Puddle is proof that concept can sometimes make up for what is lacking everywhere else.
The origins of Puddle began as a project by six graduate students from a French school called ENJMIN, (The Graduate School of Games and Interactive Media). After winning the Student Showcase division at the 2010 GDC Independent Games Festival, Puddle was picked up by
KONAMI. Now available for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, Puddle might just surprise you and give you one of those rare gaming experience we all crave.
The word that will continually pop into your mind as you play will be “simplicity”. The left trigger tilts the screen left while the right trigger tilts the screen right; you’ve now completed the controller tutorial for Puddle. The graphics are basic at best, focusing strictly on the 2D environment with the background blurred out. Liquids flow and act exactly as you might expect. There is nothing more, nothing less. It’s simple and to the point so you can focus on the task at hand. The goal is to finish each level by any means with as much liquid and as quickly as possible.
In the beginning Puddle plays just as you might anticipate. There are clever uses of mass and momentum along the way to trigger pressure sensitive buttons. Simple chimes and ambient music accompany you as you guide the liquid along the level with general ease. You’ll face
some basic puzzles, avoid objects and causally progress along; nice but forgettable. Then just when you think you have it all figured out you’ll come to one of those rare gaming experiences where something the game surprises you and offers you more.
That moment is when simple becomes spectacularly clever. The statement, “Any means to finish the level” becomes clear. It was straightforward, it was clever, and it spoke to the little engineer deep down inside longing to blow things up with science. In short I loved it and couldn’t
wait to see what the rest of the game had to offer. After 6 levels I was sold, hook line and sinker.
As you progress in the game you’ll change liquids and environment, each with its own specific properties, hindrances, and abilities. Along the journey you will come across several more “oh that’s so cool” moments. While somemissions can be frustratingly challenging, they are all beatable with some trial and error. Without becoming overly maddening yet not so simple that you’ll fly through each level.
Conclusion: Puddle offers an uncomplicated enjoyable experience for puzzle solvers. The graphics are on par with what one might expect from a standard iOS game, which you might wonder why it wasn’t released as one. The simple tilt action controllers would have been ideal for tablets. Replay is limited to going back in an effort to outperform previous times. As such Puddle is probably best as a single play through, but a very enjoyable single use. The cost is where it should be; somewhere between $5 to $10 seems just right for this game. If you have the coin to spare you should definitely give this a go. It’s an engaging simple puzzle game that’ll continually reward you with clever surprises throughout.
Puddle (XBOX 360) Review