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Puzzle Dimension
Score: 78%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Doctor Entertainment
Developer: Doctor Entertainment
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle/ Platformer

Graphics & Sound:
Puzzle Dimension is definitely a unique looking game, and a good looking one. This is a kind of platformer puzzle game where you control a shiny, metallic looking ball. The twist is that everything starts out with a pixelized look, or at least a pixelized skin. The background music also starts out as an 8-bit chiptune score. As you cover more and more of the map, the tiles around you change to a modern, rendered look. The chiptunes are replaced with a modern electronic score. It's like listening to that Evolution of PC Audio video where the sound evolves as the technology does.

There are several themes you can unlock as you progress, so in theory you could change the look of the game as you like. It may just be a subtle way of changing the difficulty, as some of the themes make the tiles on the board look very similar to one another. This makes planning your route that much more difficult.

Overall, everything is well done in this department. The ball clinks with a solid, heavy sound. Ice tiles look perfectly frozen, while fire tiles look like they'd be a nice place to grill some burgers. In the default theme, at least, everything is easy to differentiate, which is important for a puzzle game with as many traps and tricks as this one. The overall presentation is pretty slick.


Gameplay:
Puzzle Dimension is a mind-bender. Don't get comfortable with the idea of rolling that little marble around and hopping over a few obstacles. The game soon turns everything upside-down, literally. The ball follows the board as it curves around and back over itself. Although the ball doesn't strictly adhere to gravity, it does always fall to wherever "down" is. If this seems hard to follow, it is. It takes a little getting used to.

You'll have to learn how each new tile you encounter works before you can proceed through Puzzle Dimension. The special tiles you first encounter are the Ice and Breakaway tiles. The Ice tiles will not allow you stop on them, and will push you out to the next tile you were heading toward. The Breakaway tiles will only allow you to roll over them once before they break away. Later you'll encounter tiles that catapult you, that disappear, and even spiked tiles that will somehow kill your poor ball. The use of all these special tiles means that there's a very limited number of solutions, if there is more than one at all. Of course, that's a puzzle game at its best.

There's not much in the way of special items or bonuses in this game. The bonuses you earn are based on how fast you "convert" the map from its original pixelized state to its "prettier" end result. So, if you're a speed demon, you can grab extra points. But there are no bombs, jewels, or other gimmick items. You deal with the obstacles you're given, and you figure out where you jump; that's pretty much it.

As a side note, I'm not the kind of person that gets motion sickness from playing first-person shooters, or anything really, but this game made me understand that queasy feeling. If my eyes were connected to my stomach in just the wrong way, yep, I could see this game causing some problems.


Difficulty:
Because of the limited number of solutions to each board, Puzzle Dimension is inherently difficult. When you add the gravity-bending physics and the fact that boards can wrap around themselves, you've got a whole new level of difficulty.

With this being a platformer, you also have a timing issue to worry about. Luckily the action isn't terribly fast, so most gamers should be able to handle it. Still, if you like to step back and contemplate your next move, you can't always do that here. Some of the more advanced puzzles have you completing a complicated, long set of movements, and don't give you a chance to take a break. You have to plan your route, and in some cases, memorize it almost religiously.


Game Mechanics:
Puzzle Dimension isn't a particularly complicated game in its control department. Although it may follow a board that can bend in over itself, the ball never really moves in a non-linear fasion. Basically, it moves forward, and you can jump while it's moving forward. If you are going to make a turn, you'll stop on a tile first, and then you can whip the camera around and investigate your next move.

The cameras do what they need to do, with several options to simply press a button to look straight down on the board or straight up. It can get a little complicated when your ball is in the middle of a curve (so the direction of "up" is a little hard to determine).

Puzzle Dimension may not hook the casual puzzle gamer. It puts pressure, even though it's ever so slight, on reflexes and coordination. If you're not paying attention, you'll fall off the map easily. There's also no story, no frills; it's just a puzzle game. Still, it's a good, mind-bending puzzler. If you're trying to rope in your casual gaming grandma, however, you may want to ween her in on more Bejeweled before trying this one.


-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

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