Downstream Panic Review
Downstream Panic box art
System: PSP Review Rating Legend
Dev: Eko System 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Atari 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Feb. 5, 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Wind-blowing fans will allow you to push the water over a flat surface, similar to that of a bridge. Then there are the explosives. The environment is destructible. They come in the form of rockets and are used to blow openings into the various globular shapes that trap the water. You can also try to unleash boulders and have them roll down slopes and knock out other parts of the environment. Knowing exactly where to target these tools, and when, in an effort to get the water to flow where you want it to go, is a huge part of the gameplay.

Downstream Panic screenshot

Before each level, you can check out the playfield to see what path the water should take. You can examine the screen from the bottom to the top, which is a good way to plot your strategy. I call this the completion-backward principal. You can think of the playfield as a maze. It can help to see where you want to end up. Each level becomes more complicated, but to keep things interesting, new tools are introduced often. When a new tool is introduced, the gameplay is simplified to help you get used to using the tool, implementing it for future strategies. But don't get too cocky because as soon as you get a handle on your new tool (pun reluctantly acknowledged), the difficult increases rather sharply.

Money earned from bringing your fish to safety can be spent to purchase tools in the Free Play mode. You can buy as many rockets as you can afford. It does make things a little easier, but only because you'll be able to have a few more chances at getting it right. Survival mode is tough. The fish do not get restocked at the end of each level; their loss is cumulative. When you lose your last fish, it's game over. There are no multiplayer modes, but a game like this doesn't require them.

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Graphics are colorful and imaginative. The fish have a cartoonish look about them. They animate well, and despite blindly following the flow of the stream, they do possess charm and character. It's what makes us care about them. The water animation is impressive. It's not perfect; the water tends to act more like a mist, but considering how difficult it is to render water, the result is believable. The environments are fully destructible. They are simple, but designed to be unobtrusive. It would be easy to clutter the screen with superfluous detail. We have a clear view from top to bottom. The tunes are catchy, if a little simple. You will also notice plenty of repetition with the textures, but thankfully the gameplay is engrossing enough to distract your attention from such observations.

Unlike a lot of puzzle games, Downstream Panic has a decidedly organic feel to it. It feels as though you're playing in a virtual eco system. Rent it for sure.

By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
4.4
Graphics
Simple, colorful, and easy on the eyes.
3.1
Control
Some tools are extremely touchy and unforgiving.
4.0
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Catchy, upbeat arcade-style tunes. Cartoonish sound effects.
4.3
Play Value
Fun and addicting. It can be quite tough and frustrating in some levels.
4.3
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • In Downstream Panic players will save their scaly sea-friends in more than 80 different levels with five different customizable environments.
  • Three different game modes (adventure, free play and survival) bring more of a challenge to the aquatic mix.
  • With more than 10 hours of standard gameplay and downloadable content, Downstream Panic! aims to offer more than just the average PSP system puzzle fare.


  • Screenshots / Images
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