Monday, 8 December 2014

Pullblox Review

Pullblox manages to be both simple and confusing at the same time. As you stand at the top of the level, looking back on the intricate series of platforms you used to get there, one question comes to mind. The constantly changing, immensely complicated arrays of blocks makes you both fear for and fear the sort of deranged minds that could put them together in the first place. Sure, some of the (arguably better) stages clearly have some sort of concept or idea that can be conveyed with words but other stages are just pictures that some maniac has managed to hide a path to a lost child in. What's more, those words tend to be something like "build a tower so that you can jump to the other one and pull out that bit, but not in such a way that you can't climb the first tower again so that you can jump onto the block you pulled out" so even then it's hardly simple.

What the block?

In a way, Pullblox is a difficult game to describe or review, because, get ready for a bombshell, Pullblox is Pullblox. The game is one core concept well executed by people who obviously put a lot of thought and time into it, but whether or not you enjoy it is probably a personal preference. I can't think of a game it resembles so we'll have to do this the long way. You play as Mallow on a mission to save children. Children trapped in blocks due to Jurassic Park level ineptitude on the part of theme park owners. To rescue them, you must pull out that block and hop on top. These blocks have the same properties as the blocks which you traverse to reach the goal block. Block. They can be pulled out from the wall three times, either from the front or from the side. Later on, switches to extend blocks and tunnels are introduced. In addition, creative types can use these tools to create their own puzzles to share with others.

crap, that's only two paragraphs
In the interest of making this review seem bigger and more important I've come up with some complaints about the game. The introduction appears to have been made immediately after a harrowing testing period, the elderly tutorial character might as well scream "REMEMBER THIS" and "YOU CAN PULL BLOCKS COMPLETELY OUT IF YOU DRAG THEM FROM THE SIDE, DON'T FORGET THIS LIKE THE LAST GUY". At times it can be difficult to tell if Mallow can make a jump, especially when he's jumping into the screen, but this is rarely a serious problem thanks to rewind button. By holding the L button you can rewind back a surprising amount of time, so progress isn't lost if you miss a jump or move the wrong block. It's possible to stop the clock to pan around the level and give you time to think without cutting into rewind time by pressing R. This requires a little effort and is the worst thing I could think of in Pullblox.
When a game's biggest flaw is that if you choose to pause the game to preserve rewind then you must hold a button down, it gives you some idea of how well put together the rest of the game is. As is the case with puzzles, sometimes, try as you might, you get stuck, at which point the game offers you the chance to skip that stage and return to it later. For the small child compressed in a two dimensional square, seeing Mallow (if indeed someone in such an abstract environment would be able to "see") saunter off to the next puzzle means the nightmare is not yet over, but for the player it means there's always a fresh challenge to attempt and the good times can continue.


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