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Old 09-02-2010, 08:02 AM   #1
CMay
 
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Interested in Puzzle Dimension? Read this first!

.

I'm a sucker for neat little puzzle games and Puzzle Dimension seems to fit that bill pretty well. Below is a bit of a review including a quick rundown of the game basics and a comparison of the demo with the full version to give you a better idea what the demo is missing when you try it out.


Gameplay:
  • The game pits you (a ball with the looks of a Christmas ornament) against physical and mental obstacles on a 3D floating tile platform. Your primary goal is to figure out how to safely collect all of the flowers on a stage and then get to the exit portal. As you collect more flowers, you will unlock new sets of stages (clusters) and new visual themes to make the next set of puzzles feel more refreshing. This basic formula is assisted by the tile variety, interesting puzzle designs, optional goals and achievements. The puzzles do get to be pretty interesting and definitely make you stop to think.

    As you unlock each puzzle cluster, you'll notice they're themed to take advantage of a couple tile types or a puzzle design style. In order they're named: Broken ice, Jump in the fire, Toggled blocks, Shifting sands, Hidden blocks, Bends, Flat, Revisited, Mix and The End. Each of these clusters contain 10 puzzle stages bringing it to a total of 100. For a list of all the different tile types the puzzles are constructed out of, look further down the post.
Graphics:
  • The graphical style is simple enough to not distract you from the task at hand, but clean and well done with dabs of color to keep the flowers from wilting. Each stage starts off pixelated and as you pass near a tile it becomes unpixelated, showing the higher quality version which offers enough contrast to be useful as an indicator for where you've been. Passing by tiles like this is actually a bit soothing. On top of this, there are 3 tile themes to unlock for a total of 4 you can switch between to keep things fresh with a different emphasis on colors and design. The 4 themes can be seen very clearly in the screenshots on the Steam store page.
Sound:
  • The sound effects give off a slight Metroid vibe, which is fitting since you control a ball. There's also an unexpected mixture of high quality sounds and low quality retro sounds in use, but it turns out that they're separated enough in their purpose to not be distracting.

    The soundtrack is comprised of 22 tracks which are made up of 11 unique arrangements with 2 versions each. The first version is an 8 bit retro style while the second version is higher quality with some airy synths and echoes. As you progress through the game the music will transition between the two. Though the retro music is not for everybody, I think it works pretty well.

    You can listen to, download and optionally pay for the soundtrack here: http://doctorentertainment.bandcamp.com/
Controls:
  • The controls feel good and are no trouble to pick up whether you use the keyboard (I would avoid trying to use the mouse) or a gamepad, though a gamepad will probably be a bit more intuitive and comfortable for this game. After you get the controls down and understand the different tiles, you can quickly settle into the game. If you get disoriented easily, then the stages that have you going upside down might pose some problems. Luckily there is a camera button to zoom out and show you the big picture so you can get a grasp on it.
Pacing:
  • Once you're familiar with things, you can decide to go at it with a relaxed casual pacing and simply complete the stages or you can get competitive by completing them as fast as possible going for high scores. While there is no time limit to worry about if you don't want to feel rushed, there is a meter that lets you build up score multiplier if you go at a faster pace. If you already know the puzzles well then the earlier stages can take 30-40 seconds to complete at a speedrun pace while the later stages might take 1 to 1.5 minutes. Using that as a basis, it might take an average person between 3 to 10 minutes for an easier puzzle and 10-30+ minutes for a trickier one if you get stuck.
Replay value:
  • After a guesstimate of 10-14+ hours worth of puzzles in the game, the primary elements that add replay value are the achievements and the leaderboards. While earning the various achievements might keep you occupied for a bit after you've beaten the game, the leaderboards don't let you compare individual stage scores with friends which might have added significant replay value. You can compare cluster scores though, so you can still compete on that scale.
Difficulty:
  • The levels start off pretty easy as you might expect and you are gradually fed more complex puzzles that make the most of each tile type. If you haven't seen any of the later stages then you can check out some Youtube videos of them, though you risk spoiling puzzle solutions. Some might say that the puzzles near the end are a bit too long causing frustration if you make a small mistake at the end, so just don't make a mistake.
Conclusion:
  • Overall it seems like a fairly polished experience with tight gameplay easily worth the small price tag if you have any interest in this genre.

    Certainly check out the demo here if you have any doubt and make sure to read the comparison of the full version to the demo below.



__________________________________________________ ____________________________

Demo / Full version comparison:
  • The demo includes these 7 relatively easy stages out of the 100 in the full game:
    • 1 - Broken ice: Puzzle 2
    • 2 - Jump in the fire: Puzzle 3
    • 3 - Jump in the fire: Puzzle 6
    • 4 - Toggled blocks: Puzzle 1
    • 5 - Toggled blocks: Puzzle 4
    • 6 - Shifting sands: Puzzle 6
    • 7 - Hidden blocks: Puzzle 5
  • If you found the demo to be too easy, rest assured the puzzles in the demo were picked for their simplicity and there are many more complex puzzles in the full version.
  • The demo doesn't allow you to configure your keyboard or gamepad controls, but the full version has been patched to add this feature.
  • The score meter/multiplier is pointless in the demo version, though it actually serves a purpose in the full version which allows you to score on the leaderboards and earn achievements.
  • You don't really get to experience music transitions in the demo.
  • The demo stages include most tiles for you to try, but the one exception is the teleporter. Teleporters are primarily found on the larger stages and the demo only includes the smallest of them.
  • There are unlockable tile and background themes in the full version.
  • You don't get any credit for fully unpixelating a stage in the demo.
  • The demo supports windowed mode (Alt+Enter), but the full version actually has a menu option to toggle it on and off for convenience.



__________________________________________________ ____________________________

How the game works:

Movement:
  • You can move left, right, forward and backward 1 tile at a time.
  • Your ball doesn't need to turn in order to go in a direction, when you press left you will immediately go left.
  • Your movement is snapped to each tile, so you don't have to worry about accidentally rolling off without making a larger mistake of your own.
  • You can roll off of a tile to intentionally fall off if there are tiles below you to fall onto. Gravity is relative to the tile you're on.
  • You can jump, but only 2 tiles at a time so make sure you don't accidentally jump too far. Pressing any direction and the jump button will jump in that direction.


Camera:
  • The camera will snap to the 4 directions, and while forward is defined as the direction the camera is facing, you can move independently of that direction.
  • You can press a button to zoom the puzzle out so you can see the big picture and plan out your movement. This also effectively pauses the game.
  • Holding 'S' on the keyboard or R2 on the gamepad will let you move around in a top-down view that may be considered better suited for certain puzzle sections.


Tiles:
  • Normal tile: These are standard tiles you don't have to worry about.
  • Hidden tile: These are standard tiles, but they can't be seen unless you're nearby.
  • Reverse hidden tile: These are standard tiles, but they can only be seen if you aren't near them.
  • Toggle tile (toggleable): These are standard tiles, but they can be turned on or off to open new paths. They are outlined in a dashed line.

  • Ice tile: Smooth like slides, if you see a number of them lined up then plan to be sliding across them all. Normal movement is disabled while sliding, but you can still jump if you need to.
  • Sand tile: The opposite of an ice tile. If you hit a sand tile you will be stuck in place and you can only jump.

  • Broken tile: You can cross these once and then they will break.
  • Fire tile: They look like grills and they are. After you move across these they will ignite and you'll have to jump over them.
  • Jump tile: Springboards that launch you 3 tiles ahead, which could be a bad thing.
  • Spike tile (toggleable): Avoid or jump over these if you can, otherwise you may need to activate a toggle tile to get around it.

  • Button tile: These are normal tiles with a button that can toggle other tiles opening up new paths and disabling obstacles.
  • Teleporter tile: These are standard tiles with a teleporter on them that can send you to another teleporter tile somewhere else on the stage.


Scoring:
  • Each time you gain a point your multiplier meter goes up a bit.
  • The multiplier meter slowly drains, but once you fill the meter and hit the next multiplier you can't lose the multiplier you've earned.
  • If you have a 4x multiplier and gain 1 point, you just gained 4 points. Getting your multiplier up as fast as possible is key to getting a higher score.
  • Base point values:
    • Unpixelating any tile or object is worth 1 point. Unpixelate a tile with a flower on it, you get 2 points, 1 for unpixelating the tile and 1 for unpixelating the flower. The same goes for exit portals.
    • Collecting a flower is worth 4 points.
    • Breaking a broken tile is worth 1 point. Activating a fire tile is however not worth any.
    • Going through an exit portal is worth 2 points.


Optional goals:
  • Explore all of the tiles on a stage to mark the stage as unpixelated.
  • Compete for high scores on the leaderboards with friends and strangers.
  • Unlock various Steam Achievements.



__________________________________________________ ____________________________

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Old 09-02-2010, 08:03 AM   #2
CMay
 
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Reserved just in case...
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Old 09-02-2010, 03:47 PM   #3
xX_Renegade_Xx
 
 
 
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That's a nice little review, my only gripe with the game is the tutorial, it's fine to complete and gives you the basics of what each tile does, however, once you start the full game you have no idea, as far as I'm aware, what a 'new' tile does until you roll over it, if it blocks your path once you've discovered what it does it means trying to get to that part of the level again from the beginning.

A much simpler idea would have been to include maybe an image of each different tile in the tutorial or include one different tile while playing through it, this would mean when you do start the game you'll have a much better idea what a tile does before approaching it.
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Old 09-02-2010, 04:44 PM   #4
CMay
 
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To be fair the manual includes all that information, though people don't really use manuals as much anymore. This is especially so with digital downloads. That's probably obvious to the developer though as well, so they could have included tile information in the help menu if they thought it was critical.

You can get by pretty reasonably without being told precisely how each tile works with experimentation. Having to figure them out in the early simple stages is probably part of what makes them interesting stages. There's also the part where if you don't know how many tiles there are or what they do, it could add to the anticipation for the next puzzle.

If the game threw up a dialog that told people to go die in a fire to see how it works, they might be more likely to just chalk it up to gameplay.

Hard to say.
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Old 10-26-2010, 05:01 AM   #5
howhigh1337
 
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very good review, thumbs up
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Old 12-16-2010, 04:48 PM   #6
chwynn
 
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Good review.
Also, I herd u liek bump.
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Old 12-28-2010, 01:27 PM   #7
hwxlhrider
 
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IMO

This game is functional but, honestly the demo I tried about a year ago worked and looked better, and the visual graphics were alot better too. Guess buying it on sale was a mistake as is the case with another game I got on sale too.
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Old 12-29-2010, 08:27 PM   #8
FlamingAhura
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hwxlhrider View Post
This game is functional but, honestly the demo I tried about a year ago worked and looked better, and the visual graphics were alot better too. Guess buying it on sale was a mistake as is the case with another game I got on sale too.
Are you sure? I've played the demo side by side with the release version I bought on sale and there's no difference I can tell (besides the demo version being a LOT easier).
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Old 12-30-2010, 06:18 AM   #9
pulchr
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hwxlhrider View Post
This game is functional but, honestly the demo I tried about a year ago worked and looked better, and the visual graphics were alot better too. Guess buying it on sale was a mistake as is the case with another game I got on sale too.
In what way did it work and look better? Got any hints - it doesn't sound much fun if it's only 'functional'.

And the release of the game was in june 2010 so if it was about a year ago it must've been something else :P

The graphics and gameplay should not differ between the demo and the full version.
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Old 01-01-2011, 02:55 PM   #10
hwxlhrider
 
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Yeah, the demo was noticably alot easier I guess. But I waited to buy it, now I'm a little less curious than earlier. The graphics look like they should be alot better, could be my video settings, it's likely something like that. But I lowered and raised them and there really isn't any noticable difference.
And right at the start of the game the tiled pads start disappearing and there ain't no invisible tiles to jump on and that's a huge disappointment, because the round is over if there ain't any way to get more flowers and jump to the portal. So all I can get is 1 flower and then it's over....no challenge,no alternatives except start over again.
So far I expected more from this game.
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Old 01-01-2011, 03:29 PM   #11
cwangersky
 
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That is most curious. The tiled pads don't disappear for me; the only ones that disappear are the cracked ones, and there is a strategy for those (jumping over a cracked one so that it will be there to land on when you jump back)... I do know that I started seeing surfaces disappear when I had a dying video card, could that be happening to you?
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Old 01-02-2011, 09:28 AM   #12
hwxlhrider
 
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The cracked ones are disappearing, but not just one at a time.
The ones next to each other on the same path are disappearing together, leaving no way to just jump over the blank space when there are 2 blank spaces to cross.
And usually I always end up on a tile that isn't aligned with the path I need to follow, so if I could jump 2 spaces I would need to jump at about a 10 degree angle too.
I don't know whats wrong with my strategy or if it's the game.
I'm not very far into the game, like I think I only played about 5 maps so far. But I'm trying to get good scores on first maps that I thought were easy ones, and I expected them to get harder as I go through them but not so soon !
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Old 01-02-2011, 04:45 PM   #13
pulchr
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hwxlhrider View Post
The cracked ones are disappearing, but not just one at a time.
The ones next to each other on the same path are disappearing together, leaving no way to just jump over the blank space when there are 2 blank spaces to cross.
And usually I always end up on a tile that isn't aligned with the path I need to follow, so if I could jump 2 spaces I would need to jump at about a 10 degree angle too.
I don't know whats wrong with my strategy or if it's the game.
I'm not very far into the game, like I think I only played about 5 maps so far. But I'm trying to get good scores on first maps that I thought were easy ones, and I expected them to get harder as I go through them but not so soon !
I'm not sure that I understand exactly what you're describing but it does sounds strange. Take a look at one of the many gameplay videos on Youtube and see if your gaming experience is similar to those videos.

If the game is acting in a different way it's best to submit a error report at the Puzzle Dimension support page
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