Thursday, January 24, 2008

PIQE: Chain of Puzzles Review

PIQE: Chain of Puzzles, developed and published by AlbyMedia.
The Good: Really challenging
The Not So Good: Puzzles come with hardly any explanation, all eighty-one puzzles are identical each time you play, you must play through each puzzle in one sitting
What say you? A confusing, limited, repetitive, and overly difficult logic game: 3/8

One of my favorite games for the Wii (yes, I have a Wii) is Big Brain Academy. The combination of straightforward intelligence-based puzzles and a fast pace makes for some good family fun. It’s not surprising, then, that logic puzzle games have started appearing in ever increasing numbers. Today’s entry is PIQE, a game that cleverly disguises “IQ” in the title. You sly dog!

The graphics of PIQE are simple at best. The game is very utilitarian and minimal, presenting just basic 2-D puzzles on a static background. There isn’t any overall theme, and the “action” is only punctuated by subtle background music (which I actually do enjoy). There are no special effects when you complete a puzzle (or even an indication of getting a puzzle correct). Even though PIQE would take up a minimal amount of screen space, you can’t play the game in a window. We are obviously not looking towards PIQE for outstanding graphics and sound, and you can tell by how short this section of the review is.

PIQE is a logic puzzle game that features eighty-one puzzles. And that’s it. As you’ll see, PIQE suffers from a severe case of minimalism. First off, while the game does feature eighty-one puzzles, there are really only twenty-seven unique puzzles at three difficulty levels (easy, medium, and hard). The puzzles come in the same order each game and feature the same exact numbers, colors, and shapes, even though these could easily be mixed. This means you’re playing the exact same game over and over. In addition, you must complete all 81 puzzles in one sitting, which can easily take a couple of hours. PIQE certainly lacks any replay value, making it an extremely tough sell.

If that weren’t enough, the puzzles make little to no sense. The directions are too vague to be helpful. Take the first puzzle as an example: “find differing element?” That’s it? I honestly have no idea what the game wants me to do most of the time. And this is on easy. PIQE also fails to tell you if you are correct, making trying to figure out what you are supposed to do even tougher. The game does provide a results screen at the end, but this is essentially useless. The puzzles are quite challenging and PIQE certainly requires a great deal of thought, but the featureless presentation and outright confusion surrounding the game will turn pretty much everyone away. I did find the puzzles I understood to be good enough, but PIQE has too many pitfalls surrounding the occasionally enjoyable puzzle.

I think there is a decent logic game buried somewhere deep within PIQE, but the game has way too many shortcomings to even come close to being a recommended title. Who thought that playing all eighty-one puzzles in a row was a good idea? Who thought that featuring the same exact puzzles in the same order with no variations was a good idea? Who thought that providing cryptic instructions was a good idea? It’s like the developers are trying to make you hate their game. The sad thing is most of the problems could be easily fixed. Put in some random variations. Allow the user to play a random mix of ten puzzles at a time, or even select the specific puzzles they want. PIQE is far too limited to be enjoyable. It seems that most (if not all) of the problems could potentially be fixed in the future, so there is hope for the game in the long run. But as it stands, there are much less frustrating ways of testing your brain.