I don’t wish to come across as a snob when it comes to video games, but do tile based puzzle games really belong on a console? I may be a bit of hypocrite as I myself have bought a few card games on my home consoles in the past, but come on now. The PS4 is a market leading piece of hardware designed for high-definition blockbuster games and is even capable of some highly competent VR… so why release a game on it that would be better suited on a mobile phone or a tablet?
OK, so I am being a snob. I’ll push my personal feeling towards this issue aside for a second and take an objective look at ‘ Energy Cycle’, a very cheap ($3.00) puzzle game available now in the US and coming soon to Europe. ‘Energy Cycle’ consists of a series of puzzles that all require the same methodology to solve, although the various puzzle patterns become more complicated and entangled as you make progress.
This is how a ‘Energy Cycle’ puzzle works. A pattern of dots are laid out across the screen. These dots are a mix of three different colours (green, blue and cyan) and each time you click on one that dot will change to the next colour in the cycle. However, in addition to the dot you tap changing, it’ll also change all the horizontal and vertical dots adjacent to it. To solve the puzzle you have to try and match all the colours on-screen in as few clicks as possible.
The concept is simple to understand, however these puzzle can get very tricky. Trying to solve a puzzle like this is like pulling at threads. Just as you think you are getting close to matching all the dots you’ll end up with just one or two left, and to change them you’ll end up disturbing all of the surrounding dots and all of the work you’ve done up to that point will unravel.
It’s a puzzle that’s akin to similar mental teasers such as ‘Rubik’s Cube’ or ‘Lights Out’. Similarly to Rubik’s Cube, once you have established an understanding of how the system works it’s possible to solve most combinations by following a set algorithm. Also, similarly to Rubik’s Cube, I quickly learnt that I’m too stupid to work out what this algorithm actually is and resorted to just winging it as best I could.
In the main game there are 28 puzzles that gradually increase in complexity. There is no hard limit to how many times you can click on the dots so you can keep trying for as long as need be, although the aim is to try and solve the puzzles as efficiently as possible. Should you beat all 28, do not worry about the game ending prematurely as there is also a time ‘trial mode’ and an ‘infinite mode’ where you can indulge yourself in as many random puzzles as you like. If this sort of thing appeals to you then you really can’t go wrong for $3, however I did have a few gripes with this title.
Firstly, for such a basic little puzzle game, can someone please explain to me why the PS4 version is 700MB!!! Sure, this small game is crammed with strange filters and fancy visual effects, but are they really necessary if it means pushing the file size to the best part of a gigabyte! This is a really unnecessary waste of hard disk space. There is no reason why a game like this couldn’t be scaled back to under 100MB if it meant compromising on the presentation.
This brings me on to my second gripe. For a game that has a lot of futuristic, electronic visual effects it really doesn’t look that great. For example, the puzzle dots are green and two different shades of blue. Why not add a bit more variety in the colours instead of sticking to one end of the spectrum? Also there were a few occasions when I lost track of the curser because it’s the same shade of green that is used in the green pills. Why not choose a neutral colour since so few are used in this game anyway? Also, despite the fact that there is so little imagery in this game, it would have been nice if a bit more effort was put into the graphics considering that the game’s logo and title screen both look a bit naff.
On a side note, ‘Energy Cycle’ does have one saving grace that some gamers may appreciate. Being so cheap, it is actually a pretty good title for people who enjoy collecting PlayStation trophies. Since the puzzles in the main game are all fixed, you can always resort to a guide if you get stuck. Also (at the time of writing this review) there is actually a glitch that can be exploited to easily obtain all the trophies in the two random modes. Even when the inevitable patch comes out, there’s still a decent number of trophies that can be obtained without the exploit.
At its core, there is a pretty decent brain exercise in here. Unfortunately it’s bogged down somewhere in an unnecessarily bad-looking game, with an unnecessarily large file size, on an unnecessary platform. A good concept, but not very well executed.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.