By Marty Mulrooney
Puzzle Dimension is a downloadable puzzle game created by Doctor Entertainment, a new indie studio founded by veteran video game developers Jesper Rudberg and Anders Pistol, who have previously worked on titles such as Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena and The Darkness. It is a spiritual successor of sorts to Kula World (1998, PlayStation) and is currently available on the PlayStation Network (UK) for £7.99.
Puzzle Dimension is deceptively simple upon first glance. The game features 100 levels and in each one the player is tasked with guiding a ball across multiple square tiles, collecting all of the sunflowers so they can open a portal and exit the level. However, the difficulty soon increases drastically and before long, players will find that Puzzle Dimension is anything but simple.
The game world has its own unique set of rules and sticks to them without fail. Gravity is in full effect… with a twist. Drop off the edge of a tile when there is another one beneath you and you’ll land safely. Drop off into the void however, and you’ll need to restart. Also, if you keep rolling across a curved set of tiles you will eventually rotate the entire level, so that what once was up is now down, and vice versa. This can make even the smallest level quickly turn into a complex maze.
Adding to the difficulty are the different types of tiles. Some will springboard the ball two steps forward. Others will crumble to dust as soon as you have passed over them. Some tiles even function as buttons, raising spikes or teleporting the ball across the level. Icy tiles cause the ball to slide forward uncontrollably, whilst fire grates bellow hot flames from below.
The gameplay is addictive and fun, but probably won’t satisfy casual gamers despite its ‘casual’ appearance. Puzzle Dimension is a hardcore puzzle game at heart: one wrong move can make a level unbeatable and you won’t even realise until right near the very end. The controls can also be slightly annoying at times: the game works on a rigid grid system and even a gentle nudge can send the ball rolling to its doom.
The graphics are gorgeous – especially for a downloadable title – running at a smooth 60fps in full 1080p. There is also a 3D stereoscopic mode for people with 3D TV’s. The graphics are colourful and sharp, with the different unlockable themes transforming the entire look of the game at the click of a button. There is also a cool visual effect in place throughout Puzzle Dimension – the ball will transform the initially blocky faux-low-res tiles into shiny HD tiles as it passes over them. Complementing this, the music is a mixture of what Doctor Entertainment describe as “crystal clear music and 8-bit retro-style chip tunes.” It all adds up to create a beautiful mash-up of modern and retro gaming.
Puzzle Dimension is a tough little puzzle game with super-high production values. It can frustrate at times due to its high difficulty and occasionally stiff controls, but persistent gamers will discover a collection of challenging brain-teasers that feel oh-so satisfying to complete. It is a shame then that there is no online component – not even online leaderboards – but I can’t imagine hardcore puzzle game fans having much to complain about here.
8 OUT OF 10