Enigmo Review—Lots of Water, Little Polish
Beatshapers has been a steady source of Minis since the program started, one about every three months. Their games have generally not been glamorous, but they have always been interesting, something that is different from the usual fare that is popular at the time. Enigmo is even more unusual—it’s a physics-based puzzle game.
The premise is simple; you have to fill a glass of water from a dripping faucet. While this is a difficult task for many in the morning before they have had their caffeinated beverage of choice, here the challenge is due to the container being located far away from the faucet, as well as having a number of obstacles in the way.
In order to accomplish this task, you are given a number of objects that you place where you wish, changing the course of the water’s flow. Slides, nozzles, bumpers (which make the liquid bounce), sponges, and splitters. These objects can also (and need to) be rotated, as what’s remarkable about this game is that it’s 2.5D, that is, 3D polygonal graphics in a two-dimensional plane.
This complete control over where you put these objects and their orientation is a bit overwhelming at first, in part because you almost never see this in a puzzle game, where usually there is a grid or something similarly constraining. But, it’s also because it requires a fairly complex control scheme that is not at all explained, except in a small series of help screens at the main menu.
Further complicating matters is that sometimes there is more than one liquid that you need to control, and sometimes you need to move the liquid through keys and gates. You also have to factor in the surface of the obstacles, as the fluid bounces off it in different ways. This all might sound complicated, and in all honesty, it is. This is not a puzzle game for the faint of heart. And unfortunately, if you get stuck, there isn’t any help in game.
There are 50 levels included in the game. It starts off with 5 of them being unlocked, and every time you complete a level, you unlock another one. The menu and save game system used in Enigmo is as puzzling as anything else in it, living up to the name more than the gameplay. When you quit a level, it warns you about all your progress being lost. It only means for that level.
And, when you want to go back and try playing another level from among those that are unlocked, you must pick “Resume Saved Game.” That is, when you pick “Start New Game” from the main menu, it completely restarts, and you go back to only having 5 levels unlocked. It’s more than a bit confusing.
As long as you don’t accidentally start a new game, all your scores for each level are kept. There is also a high score table at the main menu, which keeps track of your cumulative score across all levels you’ve beaten. I’m not even sure you could call it a high score table, since it identifies you as “YOU,” and the other entries are ranks like “PUZZLE BRAIN” and “DROPS LEADER” with the scores you need to reach them.
There is only one game mode, which is something of a shame. A mode where you could simply just play with the various objects and the liquids would have been both fun and helpful (apparently, versions on other platforms have this, as well as a level editor).
The graphics are really well done. To be honest, most Minis that take advantage of the PSP’s 3D polygonal graphics tend to look more like PlayStation One games than PSP games. Granted, not a lot is going on here, but the polygons are nicely textured, and the frame rate is solid.
The sound is fairly basic. Drops of water, clicking noises for buttons, and while there is music, it’s very quiet and ambient, so it’s not that noticeable. Just a slight feeling of being at Epcot Center (or a Brian Eno concert).
Overall it’s a fun, challenging, and extremely original puzzle game. While the interface and controls for the game itself need to be complex, the same can’t be said for the menu and save game system. It’s just confusing and not that user-friendly. And in something like this, a real tutorial is needed, not just a small series of help screens. While the name of this game is trial and error, there aren’t a lot of easy levels in which to play around with which does what. It also doesn’t really help that it’s so bare-bones in the game mode department.
So while it is original, fun, and challenging, Enigmo really just needs a lot more polish in order to live up to the somewhat high price tag, compared to other puzzlers that have more depth, and to really shine as it should. If you want something different or something to make you think, it’s well worth buying. But, it seems more like a demo for a full product (unfortunately, on a different platform).