If I had to boil puddle down to just one word, I think that would be “momentum.” While it is something that you will have to master to beat the various stages, it also sums of the story of the game quite nicely. The game originally was just a student project, where it won the 2010 Independent Games Festival Student Showcase Award. That momentum carried them all the way to PSN thanks to Neko Entertainment and Konami. Puddle to describe as simply as possible is a puzzle game involving fluids and physics. It is your task to get as much of your fluid, which you will have many types of in the game, from the start to the finish. If you lose too much of it, that is a game over. This is where the challenge comes into play.
The game is broken up into eight different areas, each interconnected to one another by the game’s story. The game starts off simply, you are a cup of coffee at some guy’s desk. But by the end of the game, you will have been to space and back, through a forge, in the human body, and even end up in the core of a nuclear reactor. The best part is that each stage starts where the last one left off. So the scenery is constantly changing. With the changing scenery comes different fluids, each having properties that are unique. You will have hot, molten metal which will be fast moving as long as it remains toasty, something I can best describe as sewer spunk which is rather slow moving and sticky, as well as things like nitroglycerin which are rather unstable. Each of these controls differently and makes the game a challenge.
The games controls a tight, but it will take you a while to get to grips with them. I played through the entire game using the dual shock controller and the standard control method — there are other options available on this version of the game however. Instead of using L2 and R2 to rotate the world around you could with use the six-axis motion controls or a PlayStation Move controller. While both options do seem to function, I felt that there was a much quicker response when just using the standard input method. While you might be able to get a finer tuned response with either the Move or six-axis, I feel that it comes at the cost of reaction time , e.g. having to swipe the move across as opposed to just pressing L2. The game seems to be totally playable either way though and it defaults to six-axis controls.
As mentioned above, the game will take a little bit of time to get a hang of. Levels while usually short, often are rather tricky having points that seems to be there just to make you lose fluid. The game offers no in-game checkpointing, but it does offer a “whining” system. You have two “whines” which you can use after failing a level that allow you to skip ahead. You can return at any time and if you beat the level you get your whine back. While this does allow for progression through the game, I wish you could use these whines to make a checkpoint in level. If you have ever played The Impossible Game they use a flag system that I feel this game would benefit from. Cough up a whine and be able to start from a certain section of a stage. When you beat the stage let the player continue, but if they want their whine back they will have to beat the level without checkpoints. The levels do have some areas that seem like they were originally made as checkpoints so why not offer them in such a way.
When I say this game is challenging I really do mean it. I think I died upwards of 50 times during multiple levels. But I never thought that is was because the game controled bad, or did something to screw me. It always was just I didn’t have enough speed or even that I had too much. Having to play these stages over and over again made me notice one thing about this game… the load times are really long. The initial load, while I never counted, was probably around 20 seconds and each subsequent reload averaged around 10 seconds. This is a lot of loading for levels which take as little as 30 seconds to complete. I recommend that you play this game in short sessions, otherwise you might just go crazy.
Puddle, while a challenge, makes you want to see more of what is in store for your fluid. The changing environments always keep the game fresh and becoming a master of the elements makes you feel godlike when you get that perfect run. You can even live your fantasy of traveling through the human body, and yes it ends where you think it will end. If you want to see the secret final stage or more of my thoughts on the game, check the video below.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- The levels are always changing
- Interconnecting levels and story
- Puzzles are challenging in the right way
- Great replay value
What I Dislike:
- Camera occasionally loses your puddle
- The explosive fluid
- Long loading time