Puzzle Bloom, a short web-based puzzle-adventure game, was created by students at DADIU, the National Academy of Digital, Interactive Entertainment in Copenhagen, and became a 2010 IGF finalist. I really enjoy puzzle games (especially when puzzle isn’t secret code for another match-three clone), and I was interested in Puzzle Bloom’s premise.
Players take on the role of Canotila, an adorably plump, glowing nature sprite who travels a sad, gray world full of machines, defeated slaves and robot masters. Your goal is to destroy the machines and bring nature back to the world. To do so, Canotila takes a ride on a friendly NPC creature and moves him around to solve puzzles and reach her goal.
This is a puzzle game based on the interactions between items. Standing on colored panels controls the operation of elevators, doors and more, and you’ll need to manipulate NPCs and items to avoid danger and reach your goal. Canotila needs to open a path to her goal point, but that path is usually blocked by doors that open from inside other rooms, lasers, and angry robots. Canotila doesn’t move on her own, but she can jump between creatures, ride them to move, and even destroy hostile bots. This arrangement forces players to think about their planned route in terms of individual moves, instead of walking around on autopilot.
Although the first couple levels are pretty basic, the difficulty quickly progresses to an engaging puzzle challenge. A good puzzle game gives enough challenge to create that brain-tickling enjoyment of problem-solving, without running into frustration. Because the game relies on a few interactions between items, and the rules of those interactions are quite clearly explained in early challenges, it’s hard to get stuck. (If you feel stuck, you’ve overthinking it — the solutions are often quite simple.)
The mechanics reminded me of the equipment- and object interaction puzzles in Wonderland Adventures: Mysteries of Fire Island and similar games, although I found the Wonderland Adventures forced players to save after every decision at the risk of making a mistake that left the puzzle unsolvable. Puzzle Bloom is more forgiving. I don’t mean it’s easier, just that remembering to save every couple of seconds isn’t one of the puzzles to solve. If you do run into danger, you’ll be restarted at the beginning of the puzzle, and since each puzzle is pretty quick, this isn’t a huge setback.
Unfortunately, your progress can’t be saved exactly (I’m not sure if this is a function of Unity or a design choice. Anyone know?), but the game can be be navigated by moving to any checkpoint. This also allows you to skip a puzzle you find too hard or too dull. The game only offers nine levels, but you can purchase more if you haven’t gotten enough of the machine-breaking puzzles.
Style and Story:
The story really is the style in Puzzle Bloom. The game’s story is the conflict between nature sprite Canotila and the dull machine world, and each solved puzzle turns more of the world from grey to green. It’s hardly a deep or complicated storyline, but destroying the machines makes a believable background for the item and equipment puzzles.
And without sounding too much like the girl reviewer likes the pretty flowers… well, I like the pretty flowers. The shift between grey concrete and lush vegetation really gives a sense of accomplishment.
This is a free browser game (with paid extra levels, if you’d like to support independent developers with your wallet), and well worth checking it out.