Booked my hotel in Seattle for PAX 2011 this afternoon!
But that’s still a couple of months away. But you know what isn’t a couple of months away? Cogs, a puzzle game developed by Lazy 8 Studios.
(Worst transition ever, sorry folks).
Cogs puts you in the role of inventor of all manner of steam-punk inspired machines, ranging from rocket ships to jack-in-the-boxes to steam-powered tanks. In order to bring your machines to life, you must solve puzzles involving gears and fuel pipes. These items just happen to be stuck to square tiles which can be shifted around in classic tile puzzle style.
One thing that I dig about this game is that whenever you solve a puzzle, you are rewarded with a nice musical cue and the object that you were working on comes to life. Tanks will drive off the screen, rockets will fly away, and balloons will inflate and float the puzzle away; it’s a nice touch and great reward, much better than just getting the satisfaction of “a job well done” and seeing the same image that you’ve been staring at the whole time as is the case in many puzzle games.
While tile shifting games (let alone tile shifting computer games) are nothing new, Cogs takes advantage of its invention premise and includes two-sided puzzles, puzzles where the board can be flipped over to reveal a different set of components for you to interact. This adds a new dimension to the game, literally, as the sides are dependent on one another, so moving tiles on one side moves them on the other. I find these types of puzzles positively maddening, since I have to flip the board over just to know what I’m breaking when I solve the part of the puzzle that I’m currently looking at. It adds a bit too much of a challenge for my liking, particularly since I can only view one side at a time.
Some of the puzzles are set on three-dimensional objects, with each face of the object being a separate puzzle. These were fun because they often interacted with each other, by sharing a common gear or making the player choose which pipe to send steam through, but the individual side can be solved independently of the others. This differentiation makes them much more manageable.
Completing the inventions is the goal, but hardcore puzzle gamers may challenge themselves by going for additional medals that are awarded for building the inventions within a certain time limit, or solving it using a limited number of moves. I don’t play many puzzle games, and I tried playing these modes for a few minutes and was crushed. They aren’t easy by any stretch of the word, and those were only the beginning-to-middle puzzles.
I’ve played the game for around several (2-3) hours and worked through perhaps half of the game’s 50 puzzles, though most of those were the introduction “easy” puzzles. I expect completing the entire game, not even the challenges, will take me another 3-4 hours at least.
Overall, I like Cogs well. It is certainly not the only puzzle game out there, but the unique premise of invention gives the game considerable personality and makes it endearing. If you are a puzzle fanatic or just have 15 minutes to kill before heading out to dinner, Cogs may be $10 well spent.