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.
- Out now on Xbox LIVE / PSN
- Cost: 400 MSP / £3.99 / €4.99
- Sixaxis controller support for PS3
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.
- Looks good.
- Sounds great.
- Those who chase high scores will find plenty to come back to.
- Well designed, bite-sized levels.
- 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.