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Puddle Review

What is the concept? Recalling the amorphous matter-maneuvering stages of 2006’s Loco Roco as well as 2010’s Fluidity, Puddle’s angle is that you don’t have direct control over the game’s liquescent substances. Instead, the triggers on your controller tilt the screen right and left, influencing the momentum of the game’s cascading stream of chemicals. From directing coffee through a network of Rube Goldberg-like pipes, moving fertilizer down flora-filled pathways, and transporting volatile globs of nitroglycerin, Puddle’s forty-eight levels undeniably offer variety. However, due to a few vexing setbacks, frustration occasionally outstrips the game’s quotient for fun.

Yet, look past these hindrances and creativity abounds in Puddle. Beyond the simple joy found in looping liquid through labyrinthine systems, interacting with the game’s extensive set of materials reveals the developers’ infectious fascination with science. There’s scalding pipes capable of converting water into steam and fluids which trickle through an x-ray of the human body, all culminating in an assessment screen which bestows rewards from the periodic table of elements (puzzlingly, no platinum award is given). Beyond scrolling stages devoted to winding circuits, there’s also the occasional single-screen puzzle, which tasks players with duties such as heating up a pressure cooker or using a pot of ignited combustibles to trigger a water sprinkler. Cleverly, each stage is linked to the next, with the game’s material going through a variety of transformative processes. Witnessing sludgy coffee on the first stage sieve through a filter and become pure water in the subsequent level is only undermined by the title’s sluggish load times.

What are the game’s strengths? While failing to nail to a clean trajectory off the game’s numerous ramps can inspire minor irritability, these requirements don’t fully tarnish Puddle’s relaxing vibe. Accompanied by new-age sound track as well as the tranquil tones of decanting fluids, the title’s tempo is a soothing reprieve from the deluge of twitchy action titles.

When infuriation from a particularly challenging chapter does occur, players can use one of two ‘whine’ passes, to bypass a level. Going back and completing a sidestepped stage restores a permit to your inventory, allowing further progress. Visually, Puddle is proficient, with convincing fluid physics, a high frame rate, and easily recognizable threats. Hazards also produce an aural warning such as the crackle of evaporating water when coming into contact with an open flame.

What are the game’s weaknesses? Regretfully, Puddle’s perspective sporadically creates confusion. Between each fluid’s natural tendency to break into droplets and the camera’s unwillingness to pan back, expect to repeatedly lose fragments of your liquid as it gets caught in objects and helplessly escapes off-screen. When equally-sized portions are fragmented, the title seems to arbitrarily track which piece to follow, resulting in a moment of disorientation capable of ending a game. Without any kind of written or verbal guidance, experimentation is favored throughout Puddle, which might fluster players accustomed to a bit more direction.

Supplementing the title’s collection of levels is a restricted free-form mode called The Laboratory. Without instructions and with a woefully limited functionality, the mode feels unfinished. Using pieces unlocked from the game’s puzzle stages gamers can toy with a single liquid-spewing faucet.

Would I enjoy the game? With snags such as a lazy camera and sluggish load times Puddle sporadically divulges its student project linage. Yet beyond these quandaries, the game’s physics based puzzles can be gratifying, especially for players who don’t mind a trial-and-error approach to gameplay. Endowed with an ample set of stages and leaderboard support, there’s a substantial amount of content for its ten dollar price, which helps offset Puddle’s intermittent lack of polish.


A copy of Puddle for the Xbox 360 was provided for review by the publisher.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

36 comments

  1. From those screens, the game looks really cool.

  2. I remember hearing about this game a while ago. Funny it’s just coming out now.

  3. The rocket level in the demo seemed pretty cool. I’m on the fence for this one.

  4. I bought this after playing the demo and here’s my take-

    - Levels design is good. Some really fun and creative stuff going on.

    - Play isn’t always fun. Sometime I try to get enough speed to clean an obstacle and my whole liquid stream gets ‘killed’. Reseting the level after you lose a bit of water takes to to the main menu. I really hope they fix this.

    - Graphics and sound are good. Learning curve is about right.

    - Need more (maybe 3 or 4) wimp tokens. You should get a cheevio for never using them.

    - Load times do suck.

    C+ is my book too.

  5. Played the demo and I really wish there was a button to gel together like Loco Roco.

  6. Did you get any time with the PS3 version? I might wait for a PS+ sale on this one.

  7. totally agree with what you said about the laboratory. There’s no point in it and you can’t even share it.

  8. BenjaminG@gmail.com

    great review. Picked this up after hearing raving at GDC. It’s fun but as enjoyable as it could be. Losing liquid because of the game’s camera is annoying.

  9. “puzzlingly, no PT award is given”

    Took me a second to figure out that PT=platinum.

  10. Wasn’t a bad demo, but not worth $10. I couldn’t keep all my liquid together to save my life.

  11. Epic fail at the end the video. No problem Deagle, same thing happened to me in the demo.

  12. Does our busty, katana-wielding, kimono-clad video mascot have a name?

  13. Good review, and great timing.

  14. Is there any multilayer or anything besides leaderboards for competition?

  15. Video quality looks good. So does the girl.

  16. I’m such a sucker for these types of games it’s not even funny. This one I had to pick up, because you’re controlling different types of liquids (and solids). I really like it, but you’re right, the camera should pull back more.

  17. “Accompanied by new-age sound track”

    Puddle of Mudd soundtrack would have made perfect sense.

    • No grunge please. The world doesn’t need unintelligible lyrics, flannel shirts and greasy hair ever again.

      • The shit that passes for “music” and “fashion” these days is far worse than anything Grunge ever spawned.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVsXS4wnNQ8

        • First Rule of the Internet:
          He who would openly admit to a love if the Spice Girls has forfeit the right to judge others’ tastes in music and fashion.

          • The Spice Girls never looked like a kid’s dresser threw up on them.

            Even if The Spice Force Five aren’t the most credible of musical acts to admit liking, I’ve more than earned my vote back one Tony Bennett album at a time.

            Now Playing: “We Want The Airwaves” by The Ramones

          • Haha. Good point.

        • First Rule of the Internet:
          He who would openly admit to a love of the Spice Girls has forfeit the right to judge others’ tastes in music and fashion.

          • Rules of the Internet, part 2 through 4:

            2) We will have differing opinions.
            3) My opinion is only better than yours when I offer stronger support.
            4) Despite my watertight, irrefutable support, you can still win the argument by calling me a “troll”.

        • Yeah, Minaj’s rapping/singing/whatever you want to call it is shit but you may have wanted to pick a clip without gorgeous models in it to make your point about fashion.

          • ROFL! Well, I was mainly referring to the fashion sense musicians have, but, yeah, you’ve got a damn good point. XD

  18. When did tech-gaming turn into pitchfork? We read because of your game opinions.

    • I apologize. I didn’t know I wasn’t allowed to have an opinion on anything besides gaming, even while conversing with the readers in the comments section of the site.

      • Uh noes, someone is butthurt on a review site. I really suggest growing a thicker skin. Most forums aren’t nearly as nice as this one.

        • Telling someone how much nicer someplace is than other places immediately after mocking and insulting them doesn’t make for a convincing argument.

          The biggest problem facing Internet communities everywhere isn’t that people don’t have thick skins. It’s that, by-and-large, most people have such thick skins that they don’t care who they offend or who they hurt with their words. That’s why bullying, racism and homophobia are so prevalent.

          I’m well aware how nice this community is and that’s why I obsess over everything I do for this site. I want to give the readers and listeners the quality that they have rightfully come to expect from this site.

  19. Got this for PS3 last night. Pretty frustrating camera and sometimes the levels end abruptly.

  20. Have you guys played with the new patch? I heard the load times were fixed.

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