XI
you are not logged in
Review

Review: Puzzle Dimension (PSN)

Keep rollin'.

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.

This trailer is for the Mac release but it gives you an idea of how the game works.
The puzzles themselves take the form of 3D areas of pathways, consisting of square tiles, which form shapes suspended in space. Your avatar through these puzzles is a simple rolling sphere which rumbles along in four directions (no diagonals) and can jump one square at a time. The laws of gravity are altered slightly in this space – your ball is able to roll around curved surfaces and stay fixed on the paths, almost as if the tracks were moving and the ball staying still.

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.


3D Perspective

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

You also get a points bonus for visiting every tile through a level – converting it from a kind of imagined pixel art style into fully rendered textures – before rolling through the portal. While this is compulsory in early levels, it becomes something you will only really want to aim for when revisiting some of the tricky later stages. You also earn a score multiplier for visiting tiles quickly so you might want to revisit levels to improve your time but the unfortunate omission of online leaderboards means that there is no strong incentive to do so.

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.

Pros:

  • 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.

Cons:

  • 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.

Score: 8/10

Read more: #
19 Comments
  1. Tanzil
    Member
    Since: Mar 2010

    looks fantastic!

    Comment posted on 27/06/2011 at 16:04.
  2. marblepebble
    Member
    Since: Oct 2008

    As a fan of the original Kula World, I picked this up cheap on Steam a while ago. It’s great, I’ll be getting it for the PS3 too (since I actually play stuff on the PS3 far more often…)

    Comment posted on 27/06/2011 at 16:08.
  3. R1MJAW
    Member
    Since: May 2010

    Looks good, my kind of thing. Any idea when it’ll be released?

    Comment posted on 27/06/2011 at 16:09.
    • bunimomike
      Member
      Since: Jul 2009

      Agreed. Really looks lovely and is there a specific release date?

      Lovely little review, Peter. Pitched perfect for some relaxed gaming when I need a break from bashing zombie heads together.

      Comment posted on 27/06/2011 at 16:33.
      • colossalblue
        Team TSA: Editor
        Since: Forever

        Release date is this week’s store updates in the EU and US, I think.

        Comment posted on 27/06/2011 at 16:36.
      • bunimomike
        Member
        Since: Jul 2009

        If not, I’m popping ’round your house with promises of whisky and candy in return for a game or three. ;-)

        Comment posted on 27/06/2011 at 16:42.
      • colossalblue
        Team TSA: Editor
        Since: Forever

        oooh, you bring the whiskey and I’ll charge the controllers!

        Comment posted on 27/06/2011 at 17:14.
  4. TSBonyman
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    It reminds me a little of SwitchBall, another PSN game i like. Great review and definitely a game i’ll be picking up.

    Comment posted on 27/06/2011 at 16:26.
  5. kivi95
    Member
    Since: Oct 2009

    Awesome more great games from Sweden :P

    Comment posted on 27/06/2011 at 16:27.
  6. Origami Killer
    Member
    Since: May 2010

    lovely review :) Kula World was a great simple game which ive had some good fun on and this looks kinda like cuboid too, which is too challenging for me :) tempted to get some money in my psn wallet now :/

    Comment posted on 27/06/2011 at 16:55.
  7. tactical20
    Member
    Since: May 2010

    Sounds like my kinda game! Was a bit disappointed with Switchball, but think I picked it up when it was on offer? Can’t remember!

    Comment posted on 27/06/2011 at 16:56.
  8. scavenga
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    *Like*

    What’s the price?

    Comment posted on 27/06/2011 at 17:05.
    • colossalblue
      Team TSA: Editor
      Since: Forever

      €9.99/$9.99 so probably either £9.99 or £7.29 in the UK. Under a tenner, anyway. And there’s like a hundred levels or something, it’s quite lengthy.

      Comment posted on 27/06/2011 at 17:15.
      • teflon
        Community Team
        Since: May 2009

        $9.99 and €9.99 has been £7.99 of late.

        Comment posted on 27/06/2011 at 17:37.
      • scavenga
        Member
        Since: Jul 2009

        75 Norwegian kroner, then. Nice :)

        Comment posted on 27/06/2011 at 18:29.
  9. KeRaSh
    Member
    Since: Nov 2009

    Looks great! Will check it out when it is released.

    Comment posted on 27/06/2011 at 17:19.
  10. taurus82
    Member
    Since: Feb 2010

    Uh oh, another PS3 game (after Shatter) where the backgrounds would make beautiful music visualisations (for PS3).

    Comment posted on 27/06/2011 at 17:31.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

19 hours ago
3

Latest Comments

TSA Meets

  • None today