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Review

Review: Mercury Hg

Nothing to do with deities.

The name ‘Mercury’ might sound familiar to you. Back in 2005, when we were all excitedly unboxing our shiny new PSPs, a game called Archer Maclean’s Mercury hit the shelves. A puzzle game, Mercury saw you take control of a level; moving and tilting it in order to guide a blob of mercury to a goal. Whilst that sounds easy; obstacles, insta-kill drops and an interesting colour mixing idea added a challenging twist.

Info:
  • Out now on Xbox LIVE / PSN
  • Cost: 400 MSP / £3.99 / €4.99
  • Sixaxis controller support for PS3
Fast forward to 2011 and Mercury has made the jump to HD consoles via LIVE and the PSN. Titled ‘Hg’, the premise is exactly the same as in 2005, albeit with a few new additions. At its most basic, Mercury is all about getting your blob from A to B by tilting the level, with an atom awarded upon completion. Atoms act as your currency, and a set number are required to unlock the five different areas (called ‘Elements’).

Unfortunately, the single level completion atom won’t really get you anywhere, and this is where the player needs to up their game. Each one of the 60 levels has a total of four atoms that can be awarded:

  • For level completion
  • For completing a level under the ‘par’ time
  • For completing a level without losing any of your mercury blob
  • For collecting 100% of items in a level

It’s a clever idea, and one that almost guarantees you’ll replay a level, as getting all four atoms in one run through can prove very tricky indeed. In terms of the actual puzzles, I was surprised at how easy things seemed (for the most part). On paper the conveyors, doors, moving platforms, ultra-slippery/ultra-sticky tiles, spinners, switches, teleporters and magnets sound truly devilish, but I don’t recall ever really tearing my hair out as I did with the original game. Some sections will test you, but not overly.

The colour mixing mechanic also makes a welcome return. Certain levels have doors or tiles that will only respond if your mercury blob is a certain colour. This means navigating to one of the spray points to get yourself a new lick of paint. The ante is upped later on when you have to split the blob into different parts, manoeuvre them all to different coloured spray points and then combine them to form a previously unavailable colour.

Some levels also have the ‘Smartfloor’ feature, which sees the ground only form as you move towards it. This took me by surprise the first time, and adds a layer of tension as you try and beat the clock whilst having to second guess where the floor is forming.

Visually Mercury Hg looks nice, with quite a clean, clinical feel to it. The audio also needs to be mentioned as it is fantastic, and really gets the adrenaline pumping. You can also play custom soundtracks, which the animated reactive backgrounds and floors respond to.

It’s just a shame that the game lacks variety. Whilst it plays well, there are never really any “shock and awe” moments (for want of a better phrase). From about halfway in you feel like you’re just going through the motions. Hopefully the two DLC packs that have been confirmed will remedy this.

The game’s length will vary quite drastically depending on how you play it. If you do enough to complete the main campaign, you’re looking at a couple of hours. To hunt down every last atom, and complete the challenge levels (which see you play though several consecutive levels whilst completing varying challenges) will take a fair bit longer.

Pros

  • Looks good.
  • Sounds great.
  • Those who chase high scores will find plenty to come back to.
  • Well designed, bite-sized levels.

Cons

  • Although enjoyable, the levels really do lack variety.
  • Those wishing to do just enough to complete the main game may feel short changed.

Mercury Hg is a tough one to score. There’s no mistaking that it’s a good game. It looks nice, sounds great and is enjoyable to progress through, however, you can’t help but shake the feeling that more could have been done.

However, there’s also the cost to consider. If it had been marked up as a full priced download title, a few eyebrows might have been raised, but for less than £4 it’s actually a bit of a bargain for those who like to chase high scores, although the cost of the DLC will drive that up.

As it stands this is a good game for the price of a pint, which sounds like a decent idea to me.

 Score: 7/10

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12 Comments
  1. nofi
    One for all.
    Since: Forever

    Played a preview build of this and thought it was really slick, but perhaps needed a bit more variety.

    It’s the price of a Sackboy t-shirt though, so, you know…

    Comment posted on 04/10/2011 at 09:13.
    • Lewis Murray
      Banned
      Since: Nov 2009

      This comment is hidden.

      Comment posted on 04/10/2011 at 19:35.
      • DrNate86
        Member
        Since: Apr 2010

        Hello strangely angry internet man!

        Comment posted on 04/10/2011 at 19:51.
  2. asparagushunter
    Member
    Since: Jan 2011

    The tutorial levels were some of the worst, most intrusive and unplayable I’ve ever encountered.

    The game itself though is good fun. I also like the using your own music bit, if only for different visualisations. It’s something not enough games have.

    Comment posted on 04/10/2011 at 09:23.
    • philbert8
      The Frankie Boyle Of TSA
      Since: Sep 2010

      Good points, the info on the tutorials make it very stop start, frustrating. I like using my own music as well and it should definitely be a wider used feature.

      Comment posted on 04/10/2011 at 10:58.
  3. tom_lord
    Team TSA: Writer
    Since: Apr 2009

    The price point almost makes it worth a punt out of curiosity

    Comment posted on 04/10/2011 at 09:29.
  4. mrfodder
    Member
    Since: Nov 2009

    Loved the PSP originals and didn’t have to play the trail very long before I bought it. PS+ discount helped.

    Comment posted on 04/10/2011 at 09:37.
  5. moshi
    Member
    Since: Jun 2009

    Loved the demo, purchased it and haven’t played it since, make of that what you will.

    Comment posted on 04/10/2011 at 12:12.
  6. yd
    Member
    Since: Mar 2011

    If you’re just going to rush through the levels, you’ll do it easily and get maybe a couple of the 4 goals on each level. And it won’t be worth the price.

    Try and get everything, and do all the bonus and challenge levels, and there’s a lot more game there for that £3.19 you’ve probably got lying around in your PSN account anyway.

    Also… Shiny blobs. If you like shiny blobs (and who doesn’t?), it’s great.

    Comment posted on 04/10/2011 at 12:57.
  7. Sitorimon
    Member
    Since: Jul 2011

    I love the game but I think Mercury Meltdown on the PS2 has more variety and challenge. I think though that the DLC that seems planned will take things to a new challenge :)

    Comment posted on 04/10/2011 at 18:00.
  8. TSBonyman
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    It’s a fine little time-waster for the price athough i don’t see myself buying any of the expansions. Good review.

    Comment posted on 04/10/2011 at 19:13.
  9. sparkyscrum
    Member
    Since: May 2011

    Having gotten through 25% of the game so far I’m really enjoying it. Not quite as hard as the PSP original but it’s a good game, especially at this price. I wonder what price these two DLC are going to come in at? Bet they double the initial cost but we’ll have to see.

    This is the sort of thing I love to see on downloadable games. I wonder if they will make a Vita game as well?

    Comment posted on 05/10/2011 at 16:13.

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