|Dev: Puddle Team|
|Release: TBA 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Patriel Manning
Konami displayed several casual-oriented games at their pre-E3 event. There were a few racing games as well as a sports title, but one game that caught my attention was Puddle.
Puddle is a 2D platformer with a bit of a twist. The main idea behind the game is to guide liquid from one point to the next while preserving as much as possible. It may not sound like much, but in practice it was actually fairly engaging. While not completely original—it's pretty much a high definition version of Fluidity for WiiWare—the ideas that were present definitely merited a second glance.
The levels are set in a variety of locations including an industrial factory, a psychedelic forest similar to something you might expect to find in PixelJunk's Eden, and even the human body. The PlayStation Move controller is used, and you never really have direct control of anything other than the environment. Manipulation of the fluids is handled by tilting the controller left or right, and precision is needed to avoid the hazards that are strewn about the environments exactly where you don't want them. The same kind of precision is needed to activate many of the levels' pressure sensitive buttons and switches.
The ideas at work here are truly brilliant, but at times their execution is a little off. There were a few times when the tilt of the controller wasn't fully recognized right away. It was fine for some of the early stages of the levels where the platforming sections are much more open, but in latter sections, it caused a bit of frustration. It wasn't so bad that it ruined the experience, but it's definitely worth pointing out.
Even so, some of the game's mechanics felt quite satisfying to toy with. During one stage, you have to carefully navigate down a cavity by balancing a corrosive mix on slanted bridges that slowly deteriorate as you pass over them. At the same time, you have to worry about staying away from the hazards on the cavity's wall as they'll deplete your overall supply. Burn up too much of the mixture or leave too much behind and it's game over. Trying to manage your resources and balance the risk/reward of rushing forward was strangely gratifying. Puddle's elements aren't limited to liquid-based substances, either. Some of the levels involve controlling containers of fire, while others task the player with guiding a beaker full of water through a dangerous industrial compound. The player always has to take gravity and momentum into account as well, barring the zero-gravity levels, of course.
Visually, this isn't going to be the next Crysis, but in terms of form and function I think the graphics are spot-on. Main elements are displayed in gray, black, or even x-ray white, while the fluids are represented in a sort of stylized photorealism. The backgrounds are vibrant and colorful and the particle effects are generally believable. The sound design follows the same minimalist design present in the visual presentation. Mild techno will play in the background at times, but that can quickly change with the pacing of the levels themselves.
The game was developed by a team of eight (aptly named the Puddle Team) and is currently available for download for PC for free if you'd like to try it out for yourself before it's released on the PlayStation 3. Though the ideas behind this aren't terribly original, they're not badly executed either. There's some potential for good things here, and hopefully the Puddle Team will make good use of the time between now and release to perfect their formula. Stay tuned to CheatCC for more previews from E3 2011.
CCC Contributing Writer