Jan 2, 2014Puddle wants to be a unique physics puzzler but its terrible camera, arbitrary scoring and reward system and contempt for the player in general crosses the line from mediocre into truly bad.
In Puddle the player controls a small amount of liquid over and around various obstacles by rotating the view with the left and right mouse buttons or, alternatively, the left and right triggers onPuddle wants to be a unique physics puzzler but its terrible camera, arbitrary scoring and reward system and contempt for the player in general crosses the line from mediocre into truly bad.
In Puddle the player controls a small amount of liquid over and around various obstacles by rotating the view with the left and right mouse buttons or, alternatively, the left and right triggers on the controller (which is only partially supported). Sound exciting? It isn't.
Puddle, despite not being the most exhilarating ride even on paper, could have been a lot better. As is, Puddle leaves a lot to be desired
To start with, there is no way to zoom in and zoom out the camera or (even better) a dynamic pan and zoom camera that would automatically see the full length of the flow (or at least the bulk of it) or let you look ahead to oncoming obstacles or let you get a better view at the switch you’re supposed to be guiding your liquid friend to.
So what happens is after you have masterfully navigated most of your stream across burners and around various S-curves the camera moves on to the part of -not the flow- but the obstacle course that you’re navigating. This means that a small trickle or some droplets get left behind and out of view, even though you’re pretty sure you could safely navigate them back into the flow. Sometimes your entire flow is out of view because the camera has fixated on where a few droplets barreled ahead and met an untimely end leaving everything else behind an unseen.
And if you do have the audacity to continually lose all of your water over and over again because of the lousy camera and you just want to move on to the next level, the game straight up calls you a whiner. That’s right. You get 5 free passes and each one is called a “whine”. Yes, I couldn’t complete the level because your terrible camera left my entire flow out of view so I’m a whiner. And that, ultimately, is when I decided that's what is ultimately wrong with Puddle it has a passive aggressive contempt of the player in general. That is Puddles true downfall as a physics puzzler it just isn’t that into you.
You see, your score is determined by a) how much liquid you end up with and b) how fast you got it there. But the game intentionally restricts you from maximizing your score by giving you no control over the camera so you can get every last drop. And then there’s no on-screen timer or indication of what a “good” time is, nor does the game really care what your time is because the game grades on a curve: For Puddle, getting a little bit of water to the end quickly is every bit as noble as getting a lot of water there slowly, which is to say that it isn’t.
And should the player actually do well in a level, they’re rewarded with digitized foil-covered chocolate, pre-bit, just for that additional elbow to the ribs. Do poorly and you’re a whiner. Do well and you get the same chocolate treat you’d get even if you did just okay, only with different chemical element shorthand embossed on top.
And it’s that disregard for the player and the player's performance that takes what could have been an okay game and takes it down to a being a bad game. The okay water physics and the terrible camera would have made Puddle a 6.7 or so. But because the game doesn’t seem to care whether you do well or poorly and gives you a hard time no matter what, it’s a 5.2 at best and I’m rounding down to a 5.… Expand