Mercury Hg is a fun little puzzle game from UTV Ignition. Like its predecessors on the PlayStation Portable (Archer Maclean's Mercury and Mercury Meltdown), players take control of a blob of mercury, guiding it through an intricate web of obstacles towards the exit. There's a surprising amount of fun to be had here and for the very low price of $4.99, it's definitely an experience worth checking out. Here's exactly why.
It's a simple premise really, despite the number of tutorial levels players need simply guide their blob of mercury across a floating board towards the exit by tilting the board and using gravity to propel it forwards or back. Obviously, the game starts off insultingly easy, but the more levels players unlock, the more obstacles the game will put in their way. The game gets quite challenging and with 60 levels to play through, including bonus levels. That's a lot of brain-teasing puzzles to get through.
Guiding the blob of mercury is a challenge in and of itself, and not because of poorly implemented control mechanics. In fact, players can opt for traditional means, controlling and tilting the board by way of the left analog stick while the right rotates the camera. The alternate control setup lets players tilt the board with the Sixaxis, which is even more challenging. Where the analog control is more forgiving, empowering players with more precision, the Sixaxis is where the real challenge lies. That said, it can also become incredibly frustrating, especially on the stages where verticality and narrow pathways come into play.
On top of the core gameplay mechanics, Mercury Hg also tosses in obstacles like colour activated panels and exits. Some levels have certain areas blocked off or exits that require the blob to be a certain colour. Colour injectors are usually scattered across the stage and getting to them is just as much a puzzle as the level itself. The best part is mixing up two colours to get a third, like mixing red and green to get a blob of piss-coloured mercury, which means players have to split their blobs into two separate ones, colour each and then bring them back together using the X button. It's a really cool way to add even more puzzle elements to the puzzle itself. Other elements like speed & friction pads will throw the blob forward at high speeds or slow it down; while switches will activate dormant areas of the level that previously blocked the exit.
Despite getting easily frustrated from flying off each stage into the abyss, Mercury Hg is a charming enough game that it makes you constantly want to come back for more. Not a single stage is impossible to clear, yet each one presents more than enough challenge that it'll take several attempts. Each stage also has four objectives for players to clear. One being finishing each stage with 100 percent of the mercury blob; the second being clearing within the set amount of time; the third being collecting all atom collectibles scattered throughout the stage; while the fourth is simply clearing the level. Players aren't required to clear all four objectives at once, making it less intimidating as they can be obtained one by one on separate play-throughs.
Music plays a rather big role in Mercury Hg as a number of levels will react and behave according to the beat, affecting the challenge that players may face. The in-game soundtrack is rather nice, with trance and techno beats that are more on the light and calm side. More importantly, players can choose their own custom music and playlists if they've imported them into their hard-drives. Making each play-through an entirely different experience. Need more of a challenge? Play a heavy metal song or some club beats with powerful bass.
Discovery Mode is the main attraction, with stages spread across the entire Periodic Table. In addition to that, there's also a Challenge Mode and Bonus Levels to unlock where players are tasked with clearing a series of challenges in succession for the former while the latter are levels unlocked from progressing through Discovery Mode. There's a lot to do in this game and there's plenty to come back to even when you've cleared every stage.
For $4.99, it's a heck of a steal. A quality game with plenty of puzzles to solve and the only real downside is that it doesn't try to do anything ground-breaking. The puzzles are challenging and each stage has a number of other puzzling challenges to solve before making it to the exit. The ability to play to your own music is a nice touch as well. Leaderboards and Ghost challenges are available for the more competitive. If you have the spare change lying around, it's worth giving a shot.
|Over 60 levels to clear.|
|Puzzles that are challenging in more ways than one.|
|The ability to play to your own custom music, which affects the way each stage behaves.|
|Sixaxis controls are a bit too sensitive.|
|While each stage is unique in the puzzles they present, they still look the same.|