Puzzle Dimension

A Pixely Puzzler

Blending pixels and puzzles, Puzzle Dimension brings a certain level of familiarity and nuance to problem solving.
Author: TPS Staff
Published: September 2, 2011
By Carrie Kleinhenz

Puzzle Dimension is what it sounds like—a puzzle game that makes use of 3D space. Each level of the game is a board consisting of squares arranged into a three-dimensional puzzle. The player (a ball) rolls around trying to gather cunningly placed sunflowers in order to activate a door that leads to the next stage (think Chrome meets Super Monkey Ball).


The game is engaging in that it (after the first few levels) can get difficult. The challenge is created by two separate elements: the different types of squares that make up the board and the arrangement of those squares in the space. The basic square allows the player to roll one space forward, backward, left, or right, and jumping in any of these directions allows the player to move two. As more puzzles are completed, different types of squares are thrown into the mix. A disintegrating square, ice squares on which the player cannot stop, fire squares that can only be landed on once, and transporting squares are a few that the player encounters. The choices for the types of special squares is of the classic fire, ice, and spikes sort, which can seem unimaginative or unoriginal, but they are combined in a way that makes the gameplay interesting.

Added to this challenge is the set-up of the boards. The player doesn’t merely roll around on a flat surface (although there is a cluster of levels in which all its puzzles are dedicated to this). North, south, east, and west don’t really matter. What is up and what is down is determined by the orientation of the ball. This doesn’t mean that the player can’t fall off the board, though—a square to drop onto or a slope is required in order to get to a sunflower that might be hanging upside-down. In fact, some of the most challenging moments are when trying to do just that.

To help make the game more compelling, points are accumulated for the sunflowers collected. These points unlock different themes and backgrounds while a certain number of sunflowers is required to go to the next cluster of levels. A point multiplier has also been thrown into the game. As the ball rolls around the board, the puzzle changes from being pixilated to realistically rendered. The faster the player can change the board from one to the other, the higher the multiplier. While this pixel idea is interesting, it doesn’t feel fully integrated into the game. It feels as if someone liked the idea, wanted to use it, but didn't know what to do with it, and so tacked on the multiplier. A better reward system for collecting points might have remedied this.

In fact, the overall game lacks cohesion. Gameplay, of course, is the most important aspect of any game, and Puzzle Dimension delivers on this, but it is also important to create a world for all types of games in order to ground them for the player. All the pieces within the game feel merely utilitarian and lack a thematic connection to any other piece. The sunflowers don’t have to be sunflowers; if they were changed, it would not have any effect on the game. Similarly, the design of the door, ball, and game squares have no connection to each other. The only elements that are tied together are the plays on the 8-bit generation—the pixilation, the music, and the choice of special squares—but even that is tenuous.

The lack of cohesion can be forgotten if the game is good enough, but long loading times are always frustrating. The longest load time is when the game is first started, which is to be expected, but the player should not have to wait a long time every time a puzzle is restarted or a new puzzle begins. The amount of time spent playing each board is fairly short and a puzzle can be restarted many times, so it becomes aggravating to have to wait so long just to correct one mistake made on the previous try.

Puzzle Dimension sells for $9.99 which, with the plethora of other puzzle games available, seems a bit expensive. There are, however, 100 playable levels, and the game does look nice. Overall, it is a fun game, but the strange lack of cohesion between its different elements and the annoying load times take away from the experience. If these things aren’t a concern, though, this just may be the puzzle game you’re looking for.
The Verdict
7.5

In general, a fun game with interesting puzzles, but with its load times and other competition in the market, it might not be worth the $9.99.

8.0Graphics:

The use of both pixels and realistic rendering helps to create interest, especially when seeing what one looks like after being morphed into the other. For a puzzle game, the graphics are as good as they need to be. More textures bring more appeal.

6.5Sound:

Sound affects were appropriate and even helpful. Although the point of the music was supposed to mimic the limited sound chips of the older systems, after a while the music seemed flat and too repetitive.

9.0Control:

Simple and smooth with many ways to control the camera—very important for a 3D puzzle game.

7.5Gameplay:

The game, at first, seemed flat and boring but became more interesting as the puzzles became more complicated. The point system failed to add any interest, however.