Note: This review is based on the Playstation Network version. The game is also available on Xbox Live Arcade.
Crafting a chain of events to cause one simple event to happen is a satisfying experience. Making a laser bounce off a mirror that is angled just right, cut a rope, which in turn drops a weight on a springboard that then catapults a bowling ball through a basketball hoop may seem a little over-thought-out, but it will put a smile on your face nonetheless.
This is how Crazy Machines Elements feels. Recently released on PSN (and on XBLA August of 2011) for $9.99, FAKT Software brings its PC series to consoles with a bundle of puzzles and challenges. These puzzles, while absurd (in typical Rube Goldberg fashion), have the ability to make you feel so smart for figuring them out. In essence, it’s a perfect puzzle game in that regard.
Crazy Machines Elements has three modes; Puzzle, Challenge and a custom puzzle designer. We’ll start with the latter, as I used it the least. Creating your own levels seemed to cater more to the creative audience (which isn’t me, in all honesty). You get access to everything in the game, and can go to town whipping up your own crazy machine. It works the same as other modes, as you open a menu to pick your piece and place it in a very simple manner. One of the perks of this game is the very easy to use interface.
Puzzle mode is a bulky piece of game, as it has a plethora of puzzles. They start off nice and easy, as they should, giving you semi-completed puzzles to plug pieces into. It slowly introduces you to new pieces and how they function in the game, scaling in difficulty at a steady rate. Each puzzle has so many gold nuts to collect as your typical “game-y” collectible which you can get around to clear the puzzle, but most seemed to come naturally.
After completing 60 puzzles (yes, 60), you will unlock the final mode, Challenge mode. These are far more creative as you have a goal, and more than just a few tools to help you. You also have a credit limit, so each piece you place will take away from your allowance. While you have a much broader selection of pieces to use, you still won’t have access to all of them (certain ones would make it too easy, mind you). The challenges, though, take a lot more brain power than most of the puzzles, and give you more creative ways to solve puzzles.
The music in the game is very simple, and incredibly repetitive. It’s a short loop that will get on your last nerve when you are stuck on a puzzle for half an hour. I turned it off after the first set of ten puzzles. Another minor complaint is the load time and excessive framerate drops. At times it seems to slowly chug along before the animations pick up steam and go full speed. It’s mostly directly after clearing a puzzle, but it was a little annoying nonetheless.
All-in-all, this was a fun (but enraging) experience. If you like puzzles in general, this is right up your alley. Offering an extensive range of crazy contraptions to build and amaze yourself with, its biggest flaw is the lack of replay value for people like me; people that want to be challenged, but don’t have any interest in creating your own puzzles. That said, it still has enough content to warrant a purchase for avid thinkers and tinkerers alike.
- Tons of puzzles to work through, and challenges to solve
- Creative solutions that make you think
- That satisfactory feeling of completing a puzzle
- Generic, repetitive music
- Small technical problems (framedrops mostly)
- Waiting to unlock Challenge mode (the most fun and open) until solving 60 puzzles