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‘Puddle THD’ for Android game review

Most mobile games are either available on both iOS as well as Android or are iOS exclusive. But turns out, there are a few games exclusive to Android as well.

One such game is Puddle THD. In fact, this game is so exclusive, that it only works on the devices running on the NVIDIA Tegra 3 hardware. We decided to take a look and see if it is worth five bucks.

Title
Puddle THD
Platform
Android
Developer
Neko Entertainment
Release Date
June, 2012
Content Rating
Everyone
Size
156MB
Price
$4.99

Gameplay

The gameplay in Puddle involves guiding various liquids through obstacles towards the goal at the end of the level. The controlling can be done using either the accelerometer, on screen controls or even a gamepad.

You control various types of liquids in the game and each liquid has different properties. Water tends to evaporate when it comes in contact with fire. Hydrocarbon burns instantly. Oil catches fire but burns slowly, giving you time to control. Weed killer dissolves when it comes in contact with sundews but melts through weeds and branches. Fertilizer causes some plants to grow. The liquids are level specific and not all liquids can be found in every environment.

You have to control these liquids through various environments and guide them towards the goal. At times you use the liquids themselves to control certain aspects of the environments, such as pressing buttons to open gates, etc. Depending upon how much liquid is left at the end and the time you took, you get a gold, silver or bronze badge. If all the liquid is spent before the end of the level, either by evaporating, catching fire, dissolving or by some other means, the level ends and you have to start again.

As mentioned before, the controlling is done using the accelerometer and depending upon how much you turn you control the angle of the environment, which in turn controls the liquid. The accelerometer controls are fine but the on-screen controls are imprecise. You can’t control the how much turn to dial in and pressing the left or right side of the screen simply tilts the environments completely. It’s like playing a racing game with a keyboard. This game is best played with the accelerometer, unless you have a controller that you can connect to your Android device, in which case you may get a better experience.

Controlling the liquids through the obstacles proves to be a fairly challenging experience. The difficulty level is well balanced so they levels never feel too easy or too difficult. Some of the levels are slightly more challenging than others, which means you will be playing them more than once to get through but it never gets frustrating. The levels are also short, so it takes about a minute or two to get through them, ideal for a quick game session while waiting for something or someone (although you’ll look silly moving your phone around in public).

If at all you do get stuck on a level, Puddle has what the developers call ‘Whine’, which basically allows you to skip a level. You get four of these and every time you run out of your liquid before a level ends, the game tells you to that you can “go to the next level by whining”.

Graphics and sound

The gameplay in Puddle is ably assisted by the beautiful visuals and sound. The game uses 2D graphics but makes good uses of physics processing for rendering the liquids on screen. I do have a complaint with the liquids though. In a game where the liquid physics is such an important aspect, Puddle makes the blunder of rendering all the liquids equally. All the liquids have the same viscosity and exhibit the same behavior under motion. In real life, oil and water have significantly different viscosities but in the game they have a similar, jelly-like form. Had it not been for the different color there would have been no way to tell them apart. The water in ‘Where’s My Water?’, for example, looks and behaves much more like its real life counterpart.

Other than the liquids, though, the rest of the game looks great. All the objects have great design and animations and look especially fantastic on the HD displays of high-end Android devices that usually run on Tegra 3. There were some minor performance issues, though, and on some levels the game would definitely stutter, which is odd for something that has been designed and optimized for one particular set of hardware.

I also had issue with the on-screen options that uses tiny text. It looks like the UI was designed for tablets but is not very user friendly on smartphone displays, even if the display in question is 4.7-inch in size.

The sound in the game is also very nice. From the soothing background music (that reminds me of the music from Osmos) to the sound of the environments around you, it all sounds great.

Conclusion

At $4.99, Puddle THD is a bit pricey. Since the game is only available on Tegra 3 devices, which are usually all high-end, the developers probably thought they could get away with this pricing. Fortunately, the game itself is worth it. There are plenty of challenging levels to play though and even after you complete them you’d want to play through them again to better your score. It also helps that the game looks and sounds great.

If you just bought a brand new One X or Nexus 7, this can be a great game to show off the hardware and display on your device. If you think the price is too high, there is a demo that you can try that will definitely convince you to purchase this game.

Rating: 4/5
Pros: Fun and challenging gameplay, beautiful visuals and sound
Cons: Bit expensive, liquid physics could have been more realistic, occasional performance hiccups, tiny UI buttons

Download: Full version | Demo Version

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