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Review

Review: Auditorium HD

Move powered musical puzzler.

Puzzle games have been a staple of the digital download market ever since Xbox Live Arcade landed on the original Xbox, steadily ticking along in the background as big budget platformers, racers and adventures hog the limelight.  Naturally, it’s the quietly unassuming games like Auditorium HD that tend to ultimately offer the more innovative, unique experiences and as the quality of such titles steadily rises across the board it’s good to know that some developers are happy to still push the boundaries and not simply offer a safe, reliable franchise sequel or flashy but vacuous me-too shooter.

Hugely relaxing and calming.

Not that Auditorium HD is entirely original, you’ll understand. Ostensibly an update of a free to play Flash game (and a further iPhone conversion) the PSN version, which launched on the US Store at $10, at least brings Move support to the table, even if it’s entirely playable with a Dual Shock controller.  How the port was conceived (and will be perceived) is largely academic though, the 1080p visuals might be slightly rough in a couple of places but the overall experience is hugely relaxing, calming one when a comfy sofa and surround sound come into play.

Split into a sizable array of levels, Auditorium HD challenges the player to channel a ray of light (known as the ‘Flow’) into a series of boxes placed around the screen using a collection of  ‘Controls’ that directly affect the Flow’s direction and speed.  These boxes, or ‘containers’ start off white but can be hued in a number of colours, and as you play through the game you’ll quickly come across coloured circles that, as you’d expect, change the Flow to either pink, green or blue.  Later on, the containers come in double and triple varieties, meaning that you’ll need to get multiple colours of Flow into each before the level is complete.

To assist in your goals the Controls, which start off as simple directional arrows, quickly evolve into more useful but cerebral tools, such as Repel, Attract and Deflect.  Each Control can be moved anywhere on the screen and you can change the diameter of each too, which affects the strength of that Control’s particular power.  Likewise, the game gradually introduces other elements, such as Portals and Black Holes – although there’re no instructions or guide in the game, you’re left to figure all this out for yourself, which is really part of the fun.

Bask in the wonderful atmosphere.

The other aspect of Auditorium is basking in the wonderful atmosphere that the game provides.  The music, which builds in parts as you complete each container (and fades away if the Flow is redirected elsewhere) is classical bliss and the Flow itself, when spiraling around the screen in a rainbow of colours, can be rather entrancing.  It’s the sense of consistency and the design control that’s key here though – there’s no interface to get in the way, no surprises to the game’s structure and everything is remarkably intuitive and slick.  It’s clear that the developers have stuck to the scope of the conversion and not strayed an inch outside the line.

As the difficulty rises and the initial starter levels make way for complex puzzles that require considerable effort to complete Auditorium HD starts to really take hold, the player already fully versed in the game’s logic and mechanics and thus able to see each conclusion even if the process of getting to that stage isn’t always as easy to visualise.  By sticking to a fixed set of laws (mainly inertia and direction) Auditorium manages to become deep and complex without ever being unfair or insurmountable, and surely that’s the key to a great puzzler.

Pros:

  • Beautiful music combined with memerising visuals create a warm atmosphere
  • The difficulty curve is pitched perfectly

Cons:

  • Move control isn’t quite as fluid as you’d like
  • It’s a little overpriced
  • The production doesn’t feel totally slick

There are echoes of Flower here in Auditorium HD.  Not visually, but on a superficial level at least certainly aurally, and even casting the sound design aside it’s the raw nature of the game that connects with the player in the same way as thatgamecompany’s wonderful 2009 title did.  Auditorium HD is as pure a game as we’ve seen on the PlayStation Network: a beautiful, well measured game that’s confident in its own concept enough to play off a single idea throughout every level it offers.  A little bit raw around the edges, but a wonderful game.

Score: 8/10

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17 Comments
  1. cc_star
    Team TSA: Writer
    Since: Forever

    Been looking forward to this for ages & was a bit peeved when it missed out on SCEE’s store update last week.

    I love the flash game, and need a new zen-like game to add to FlOw and Flower

    Also, will be nice to blow the dust off my Move Sticks

    Comment posted on 30/11/2010 at 09:04.
  2. bunimomike
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    Great stuff, nofi. Very suprised to see this on the PS3 (and in HD) as I’d not read anything about it. I quite enjoyed it on the iPhone but wanted it for a home console to enjoy it through proper speakers and on a decent screen. Seems like the devs were listening.

    Finally, you were spot on about how calming it is. Close to the zen-like calmness of Flower (although not sure if anyone will beat that).

    Comment posted on 30/11/2010 at 09:05.
  3. 3shirts
    Member
    Since: Aug 2008

    Just a suggestion but could the price be listed whenever you mention it?
    In this and the crazy taxi review you said that the game was a little overpriced but you don’t specify how much it actually is. It’d be handy.

    Otherwise, great review. Thanks

    Comment posted on 30/11/2010 at 09:07.
    • nofi
      One for all.
      Since: Forever

      $10, says in the review. No Euro pricing announced yet, sorry.

      Comment posted on 30/11/2010 at 09:18.
  4. TSBonyman
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    i’ve only played a few levels of the flash game but seemed quite good and a bit different. Might check it out at a later date.

    Comment posted on 30/11/2010 at 10:08.
  5. tonycawley
    Pint! Pint!
    Since: Feb 2009

    Oh. This has come from nowhere. I’ve never heard of it, and am suddenly very interested, in fact so much so that i’ll definitely be buying it!

    Comment posted on 30/11/2010 at 10:11.
  6. JigsawPieces
    Member
    Since: Sep 2010

    Really looking forward to this but … so many games, so little time! Argh! :)

    Comment posted on 30/11/2010 at 11:09.
  7. YOURMUMANDME
    Member
    Since: Oct 2008

    I seen you playing this last night and immediately went on the store for a search….. I was left shaking my fists at you and you’re majestic like reviewer status.

    Comment posted on 30/11/2010 at 11:36.
    • nofi
      One for all.
      Since: Forever

      you should see me on my alt account… ;-)

      Comment posted on 30/11/2010 at 14:05.
  8. eye8have9you3
    Member
    Since: Aug 2009

    hmmm loved the flash version, does anyone know if the levels are the same in this version? or when it comes to eu?

    Comment posted on 30/11/2010 at 11:57.
    • kevatron400
      Drake, baby.
      Since: Dec 2008

      Yeah I was wondering that. Played the flash and iPhone versions (love this game so much)to completion, so would need something more to pick this up.

      Comment posted on 30/11/2010 at 12:14.
    • cc_star
      Team TSA: Writer
      Since: Forever

      There’s double the number of levels so by definition I think half of the are the same, there’s also a modern music mode in addition to the orchestral

      Comment posted on 30/11/2010 at 15:38.
  9. DJ-Katy
    Member
    Since: Apr 2009

    Thanks nofi! I was waiting for a review of this before picking it up on the US PSN, it was either Beat Sketcher or Auditorium and Beat Sketcher didn’t really grab me from the review.

    Comment posted on 30/11/2010 at 17:03.
  10. DJ-Katy
    Member
    Since: Apr 2009

    OMFG it’s hard!

    Comment posted on 30/11/2010 at 21:04.

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