Puzzle Dimension is a game that arrives at the perfect time, what with all the hype that's still surrounding 3D gaming. But unlike most other games that tout 3D, the extra dimension in Puzzle Dimension isn't a gimmick - it's crucial to completing the game's vast array of puzzles. It's rather refreshing to be able to say that too, but don't let Puzzle Dimension's slow pace fool you, this is no cake walk.
The basic concept is one that's been seen many times before. You control a ball which is capable of rolling around the level, but it can only move in four different directions. You also have the ability to jump, but that's as detailed as the controls will ever get. The objective is to collect different flowers which have been placed around the level and upon doing so, get to the exit.
Playing through the first few levels, this seems easy enough and it's still the case throughout most of the first world. Indeed, the game holds your hand quite well initially, as levels are comprised of straight paths and maybe a few jumps to mix things up a little bit. Blocks that disappear once you roll on them are then added to the mix as well as others which are formed of ice. It doesn't sound like a big deal, but it's surprising how complicated things can become when you can't go back the way you came and stepping on ice blocks mean you get thrown to your doom.
By the time the second world comes along, dubbed "Jump in the Fire", things start to get a little bit more tricky. The level design becomes much more detailed and the 3D elements start to come into play. You're tasked with going up ramps and taking on levels in different axes. Figuring out how to actually get flowers in the first place is hard enough, but often you'll prevent your own escape by doing so - it requires a lot of thought and planning to complete levels.
As you progress through the game, individual levels can take over a minute to complete, even if you know exactly what you're doing. That's a real testament to just how detailed everything is and how meticulous the developers were when making the different levels. And that's where the real charm of Puzzle Dimension lies; it's false sense of simplicity. Maybe it's the art style or the music, but when you're faced with a new level, it often doesn't seem too challenging. It's only once you start rolling forward that you realise things weren't anywhere near as easy as they seemed. In the later worlds, you can spend a good chunk of time planning out different routes, it can become very complicated, very quickly.
What's great about the game is that elements are never forgotten. When you start a new world, the first level or so is typically used to introduce a new element, but other ones will quickly reappear. And by the 8th or 9th level in a world, you'll be seeing every single element appear for a monster challenge.
Presentation isn't the game's strong point, but it's not a game that necessarily needs it. The developers have gone for an old school art style and it does its job. The only negative that can really be said is that the ball feels like it's made of a ridiculously heavy material - there's not really a natural flow to its movement.
From the perspective of replay value, Puzzle Dimension is a little bit lacking. It's of course possible to replay all of the 100 levels featured in the game, but in the PlayStation Network version, leaderboards have been removed. Therefore, the only reason you'd want to do it is for personal gratification. There is a combo system there though, so getting better scores is possible if that's your thing and here you'll be rewarded for not only completing levels, but exploring them as much as possible.
Puzzle Dimension is a solid puzzle game that fully utilises the third dimension. It's also got a deceptive difficulty curve, so anyone who's up for a challenge will find themselves very tested by it. It's just a shame that some of the game's replay value was stripped out of this version, but it does little to tarnish a puzzle game that offers a refreshing challenge.
|Offers a refreshing challenge.|
|Design is simple, but effective.|
|Plenty of levels to check out.|
|Physics felt a little strange.|
|Difficulty may put some off.|
|Replay value is minimal.|