Puzzle Dimension arrives on a PlayStation Network Store which isn’t exactly undernourished with decent puzzle games. Doctor Entertainment have chosen to bring their critically acclaimed 3D ball-rolling PC puzzler to consoles during what is traditionally the quietest time of the year for game releases. It could be considered brave to enter a packed market with a game that hasn’t had much hype – and during the summer months – but with Puzzle Dimension, it might just be a strategy that pays off.
The game has a single, simple premise: Collect all the sunflowers and return to the portal. Such a simple goal belies the intricate nature of some of the puzzles but that intricacy is nothing to fear because the game is gentle with you to begin with. Soon enough you will be navigating through complex puzzles like it was second nature.
There are obvious comparisons to Kula World (Roll Away in the US) to be made and, in fact, the founders of Doctor Entertainment previously worked on that title so the similarities are clearly intentional. One thing that sets this modern realisation apart from that early PlayStation classic, though, are the visuals. It runs at 60 frames per second in full 1080p and can even make use of your TV’s 3D functionality, should you be so lucky. It is perhaps an odd thing to comment on in a review of a puzzle game but the crisp, clear and consistently rendered appearance of the game world really is something that leaps out from almost every level.
There are a range of extra hazards and mechanics that are presented to you as you work your way through the game too. From crumbling tiles and fire pits that can only be rolled over once to ice sheets which prevent your ball from stopping and switching tiles that only appear after a button has been pressed. In truth, it’s a simple game and even the diversions from the core principles are simple enough but it all just works together exceptionally well, with each new element adding to the complexity and working with previously introduced mechanics.
The visuals are fantastic and even the thumping, pseudo 8-bit, soundtrack is solid and entertaining enough, without ever making itself the star of the piece. What really matters though, is the puzzle design. Here is where Puzzle Dimension’s real strength lies. Early stages are simple affairs, designed more to guide you through the basic controls and introduce some of the hazards. Fairly soon, levels become complex to the point where they seem baffling until that ball starts rolling. Often a level will have no immediately apparent way to solve it until you start rolling that ball around and almost exploring the landscape.
On paper, you wouldn't think a puzzle game like this would benefit much from running in 3D - and technically you'd be right, it doesn't. You don't get any extra assistance with the challenges and it's not really the sort of game you'd use to demo your brand new 3D TV... but, and obviously we're not suggesting you upgrade your set just to play Puzzle Dimension, it is a nice looking game with the extra depth. It still runs at sixty frames per second, the resolution's still sharp and you do get a sense of scale with the distant backdrops. A nice touch, but then this isn't a game that needs gimmicks to sell it. Alex
The fact that this game was created from a hobby project, worked on in the spare time of the accomplished men behind it, is inspirational. There isn’t a narrative or any need for characters, scripting or much of the other peripheral work that goes into so many modern video games but what this kind of game absolutely requires is finely balanced difficulty levels and well designed puzzles. That’s exactly where the focus lies with Puzzle Dimension and the result is probably one of the best puzzle games available on the PlayStation Network today.
- Simple premise guiding your hand through puzzles with amazing complexity.
- Visually resplendent and consistent throughout.
- It doesn’t try to do too much but what it does is so finely tuned.
- Needs online leaderboards and a level editor to complete the package.
- It’s not a wholly original idea or implementation.
Puzzle Dimension, like its spiritual predecessor – Kula World – is a simple idea that is acted upon with great focus and substantial ingenuity to produce a complex and compelling puzzle game. It’s not an entirely original concept for 2011 but it is completed and presented so well that it’s easy to recommend this game to anyone looking for a bit of cerebral acrobatics from a PSN game. Inclusion of online leaderboards and a level editor would make this the best of its kind.