Review – Droplitz
Hey Dawg, we heard you like puzzlers. So we burned this one into your brain, so you can game whilst you sleep.
Droplitz came out on XBLA a little while ago and was ignored by most of us here at PEOWW. After all XBLA fucking sucks arse these days (bad prices, bad games and stealth DLC in order to really play the ‘full game’) and who needs yet another puzzle game? So, I downloaded the trial and left it for two weeks whilst feeding my Sacred 2 addiction.
Eventually I tried the trial out. You know how heroin dealers give out a little for free just to get you hooked? That’s what Microsoft have done here. I played the demo for an hour before shelling out for the full product and I’ve been playing it every chance I get.
The premise is simple. Little droplets are released from the top of the the screen and the follow all available paths. Paths are various combinations of straights and Y/X junctions that can be rotated until you’ve made a path to the bottom. You start with a supply of droplets that is depleted each time one is lost. Lose them all and it’s game over.
When you complete a path, droplets are sent back to your supply and a purple one will make its way down the path. This acts as a timer for building multipliers. The idea is to create as many paths as possible from top to bottom (each new path releases a new purple droplet which gives you more time) in order to maximise your scoring and regain more droplets.
The short version of all that is, it’s a bit like Pipemania but not really.
Achieving scoring targets will unlock new themes (a bunch of different colour schemes that aren’t particularly interesting), new boards (bigger play areas allow for larger multipliers) and new modes. ‘Zendurance’ is much like the classic mode but doesn’t get progressively harder (it is a bit trickier than the classic mode’s early levels though). Blitz have included an achievement for playing this mode for two hours in one sitting. Not cool. Not cool at all.
‘Power Up’ mode unlocks er.. power ups which allow you to slow down time and destroy blocks. Not particularly interesting. Finally, ‘Infection’ mode sees various dials (the pieces you rotate to make paths) getting infected which really slows their rotation down.
There are no multiplayer modes unfortunately although seeing as only three of my hundred friends have it (and one of those is doing the second opinion), I guess this isn’t such a big issue. Still, it’d be nice to go head to head occasionally. Each level has its own leaderboard of course. This will just highlight which gamers out there on Live have superpowers (see: anyone who maxed out Hexic).
I like puzzle games but lately there have not been very many innovative ideas but Droplitz hopes to change that with its Downfall (and old board game featuring marbles and cogs, don’t ask!) mixed with Pipemania gameplay.
The weird thing was I was not expecting anything from this game. I spent an hour straight playing the demo before buying and not many puzzle games have managed to keep my attention for that long in some time.
The game is well presented, has plenty of unlockables and is pretty straightforward to play so anyone can give this game a try and they should because the game is really good fun once you get the hang of it. My only really problem with the game is sometimes I have problems seeing the little yellow drops on my standard definition TV which is kind of annoying but other than that everything is peachy.
There are a lot of puzzle games out there, especially on XBLA service but Dropletz is different, it plays different and it feels different. It is 800M$P, which is not exactly deal of the century, but you should definately try the demo as it’s free and once it gets it’s hooks in to you, you will be compelled to buy the full version.
Secondary Score: 8/10
The game may sound like more of the same, and it kind of is, but it’s also the most addictive puzzler I’ve played on Live. It’s kind of similar to Poker Smash but doesn’t suffer as much from that game’s odd difficulty curve (easy to play it for ages but getting anything over a x5 combo is bollocks) and I’d rate this as the better game. That said, it does seem to involve far too much luck for my liking as once you’ve filled the screen with paths, they’ll disappear and new blocks will fall down. If, by random chance, this makes a new path, you can continue your combo but most of the time it won’t and there really isn’t anything you can do to help it. They should have given you an extra five seconds before resetting your multiplier. This would have made all the difference.
Having asked the devs about it, they say that, with planning, you can increase your chances of a chain reaction to about one in three (although that sounds a little too much given that you might get the right dial piece but it may not be rotated correctly). This is a real shame as puzzle games shouldn’t rely on chance like this. Sure, in Tetris and the like you don’t know what blocks are coming next but you’ve always go time to rethink your strategy. Droplitz doesn’t give you a chance to react at all.
So, it’s an enjoyable and addictive game but bland presentation, a couple of missed opportunities with the gameplay, too much repetition and no online modes hurt it. It won’t stop you loving it to bits, and it is well worth your 800M$P, but it’s far from the 95% game that one site (not naming names but go to Metacritic and weep) thinks it is.