If a strange square appeared in the sky above you, what would you do?
Puzzle games are often very simplistic, relying on the addictiveness of the gameplay to make them popular. There are a wealth of casual puzzle games available for the pc, so to stand out from the crowd a new puzzle game needs to offer both the addictiveness and a little something extra. Can Vizati from Different Pixel, make its own mark in a genre dominated by the likes of Popcap.
Well,Â first off, the gameplay is certainly kept simple. Following a format that we have seen before, the meat of the Vizati gameplay revolves around matching up groups of the same coloured blocks to make them disappear. These coloured blocks are found within a square, containing various shaped platforms, that makes up the playing area.
The player, in order to bring together these coloured blocks, must flip, turn or shunt the playing area, causing the blocks to react to gravity and, hopefully, join together. Flipping turns the entire play area upside down, turning revolves the area by 90 degrees either left or right. The shunt is a new move for me, never having seen it in this type of game, and involves nudging the playing area like a Pinball table. This can cause blocks to fall from the edge of platforms, or simply move a bit to the left or right.
The controls for the game are also fairly simple. Well, mostly. The game can be controlled either by the keyboard, which is really easy and could be picked up by anyone, or the mouse. The mouse controls offer some pleasing visual effects, but suffer from being ungainly and imprecise. The combination of mouse gestures required to play the game really are not worth bothering to learn in exchange for a few sparkly on screen effects.
Vizati has a style that will endear itself to the games are art crowd. The backdrops and characters from the story have a watercolour painted finish that looks quite nice, if a bit washed out. This is all well and good, but I can hear you pondering over the existence of a story.
Well, yes. Vizati has a story. In fact, it has a whole story mode, alongside the arcade mode. The difference between the two, aside from the slightly odd characters, is that in the story mode the player has a limited number of moves available to clear the square. This makes the game more tactical, challenging the player to think several moves ahead, rather than just shaking the box and hoping for the best.
The arcade mode revolves around destroying a certain number of blocks, whilst more and more of the coloured blocks are added. Simply put, story mode is for thinking, arcade is for speed.
But the story itself is a bit odd. Puzzle games are not known for the depth of their stories, so some forgiveness can be given here. But the story revolves around a couple of kids finding our playing area floating above the ground and the craziness that follows. This sounds as though it could lead to something both bizarre and entertaining from the story. But, in reality, the story manages to only achieve a low level of bizarreness whilst becoming fairly dull.
The puzzles are fun and can certainly get the brain working, especially in story mode, but don’t be expecting the next evolution in puzzle games with stories. This is a puzzle game, plain and simple, and it does a good job of that. But, although the game does have a certain amount of addictiveness, it fails to offer anything to make it stand out from the crowd. Casual puzzle game fans will find enough here to keep them entertained, but regular gamers may have trouble finding a reason to buy this over the myriad of other puzzle games available.
Vizati is available from GamersGate