Puddle PS Vita Review
Puddle pours some water on the PS Vita game drought
The basic concept of Puddle is simple; guide some fluid through a level by tapping on the left and right side of the back touch pad to move in the corresponding directions. (These controls can be remapped to the L+R buttons, the motion sensor or the left stick.) If you’re not careful some fluid will be lost and if you lose too much then you will fail the level.
There are multiple types of fluid each with unique properties that present their own challenges when moving through the levels. For example you have water which evaporates on contact with heat, plant food which you can use to give life to bulbs that move obstacles out of the way, nitro-glycerine which is incredibly volatile and you need to move it slowly and carefully because any small bumps will cause it to explode and many, many more each with their own quirks.
This simple concept is great fun; you have to look at the level at what you can see ahead of you and plan how to navigate through the obstacles. Sometimes you’ll need to rock back and forth gently to build up enough momentum to get over a ridge and then have to slam on the brakes to avoid jumping too far over a ramp and into hazard.
The game also has a geeky feel to it much like Portal, I spotted the sigma symbol on one of the levels and the medals are awarded as chemical symbols with the grading boundaries shown on graph. There’s also a leader board where you can compare yourself to your friends, the whole world or people near you which will keep the competitive gamers busy.
A neat feature is that you can whine and skip a level so if you just can’t figure out how to get past a certain part it doesn’t mean you have to stop playing the game you can just move on and come back later. You only get the ability to skip four levels though so make sure you’re really sure you want to give up and skip the level before using it!
Each level is a few minutes long and so the game is perfect for playing on the go.
The game also has a number of special levels where you do something other than guiding a liquid through the level. These provide some of the cleverest and at the same time frustrating experiences in the game.
One of my frustrations with the game is that on some of the ‘special’ levels there seems to be a large amount of luck involved. I spent a long time trying to get past the Apollo level because I kept under or over shooting some of the jumps by a few millimetres and scraped a wheel on the circular saws meaning I had to restart the entire level.
There are also no checkpoints which can be annoying if there’s a particularly tricky part of the level near the end that you have to play through the entire level to get to again when you fail.
Graphically the game is very pretty; the levels are really detailed and clean with nice artwork on the loading screen. The icons have a nice style and the main menu is interactive allowing you to practice guiding the fluid around. It all feels incredibly polished and clearly the developers put a lot of work into these things.
Overall, this game is great challenge and a lot of fun. Like any puzzle game it can be frustrating at times but the level skip feature helps and it is easily worth £5.49.
By Aaron Kalair
PSOnline kindly received two review copies of this game.