Starting with a simple coffee spill, Puddle tracks the progress of a variety of liquids as they course through a diverse range of maze-like environments – from processing plants and sewers to the human bloodstream. Each environment contains a host of hazards which threaten to prevent the liquid reaching the exit, and your job is to overcome each one by manipulating physical and environmental forces such as gravity, temperature and momentum.
In this puzzle platformer, your understanding of the physical properties of liquids from sticky goo to rat poo is key to success. It's a simple concept made totally compelling by its excellent execution, which sees a wide array of substances calling on all your powers of insight and observation to fluidly see them through their journey. Still waters really do run deep...
Go with the flow
Puddle may be fiendishly addictive, and as an audio-visual experience it's also about as relaxing as they come. A pulsing, ambient electronic score soundtracks all your endeavours, while every environment is rendered in beautiful, crisp colours and glowing lights.
The animation is perfect: fluid and astoundingly lifelike, just what you'd hope for in a game that centres on physical movement and momentum. Every liquid slips, slides and separates just as it would in real life, and, once you start playing, it's not long before you grow as attached to your little puddles as you would to any traditional video game hero – which makes it all the more important that you rescue every last droplet from the incinerator!
By keeping the options as streamlined and smooth as the game itself, the game's makers have ensured that nothing will distract you from the mind-bending fun - making it easy to dip in and out of Puddle at your leisure. That's if you find yourself able to put it down at all...
Thrills and spills
The beauty of Puddle lies in the way it combines an innovative concept and deceptively simple gameplay mechanics with an ever-evolving series of complex challenges.
The default controls see you tilting the PS Vita system to influence the direction and speed of the liquid's movement. It's an incredibly intuitive way of manipulating the action and allows you to achieve a broad range of realistic effects. Tip the system too far, for example, and the liquid may pick up too much speed, sliding out of control and into the jaws of a waiting furnace. Move too slowly, however, and you may find yourself stuck in a U-bend – with the clock ticking all the while.
Your score in each of the 49 stages is based on two things: the time it takes you to guide the liquid to the exit and how much of it you manage to save. Lose too much fluid to explosions or evaporation and you'll have to try again – unless you fancy making use of the handy whine and skip feature, which lets you bypass up to four levels of your choosing.
The puzzles come in all shapes and sizes and it's great fun figuring out how to use each liquid's special properties to tackle the obstacles in your way. Even better, high scores can be ranked in an online leaderboard – so if you take the plunge and become a master manipulator of splashy substances, the entire world will know it.