As far as engaging puzzle games go, Puzzle Dimension fits somewhere in the middle of being a relatively simple concept that settles for a progression of challenging levels for maximum enjoyment factor. That’s a good thing and bad thing – well for fans of puzzle games at least. The PlayStation Network title (also available on Steam and Mac,) is visually a fresh experience that sticks to its basic gameplay formula the whole way through. Roll a ball and collect flowers through 100 levels that steadily up the ante in difficulty and complexity. It involves patience, endless repetition, an open mind and a joy for playing games that don’t always have to include blood and a gun armory.
As stated before, the theory behind Puzzle Dimension is borderline non-existent. It contains zero story elements, no co-op or multiplayer; just 100 levels that have you trying to get reach a portal that will take you on to the next one. The fun lies in the levels themselves and the execution of trying to reach the end of them, especially the real head-scratchers. Each puzzle consists of squares to roll on, along with hazardous traps like ice, fire and spikes which can unexpectedly force you to start from the beginning because of a wrong jump or move that wasn’t planned out correctly.
The levels vary in size and overall structure, which is one of the game’s greatest strengths. Starting off initially proves to be easy, with puzzles requiring the bare fundamentals of solving them. Eventually, the difficulty slowly begins to curve up, as do the levels which can end up looking impossibly over-elaborate before you even start rolling the ball. This is where Puzzle Dimension finds its stride is within its progression.
After playing for an hour or two, you’ll be involved in solving levels that have grown in complexity so significantly that some of them seem like more of an undertaking than real enjoyment. It’s once you jump into these intricate puzzles that the addiction to complete starts to creep in. The later stages can take well over half an hour to finish – hopefully without pulling your hair out. The problem, like with most puzzle games, is finding long term value that will keep you interested after finishing the game.
Well, Puzzle Dimension is as thin as games of this nature come by. Outside of the hundred levels, there is the ability to replay any one you want to achieve a higher score and faster time, but with no online leader boards available the incentive just isn’t there. One surprise that’s highly noticeable early on is how effective the graphics are. For such a simple-minded game like this, the developers could have gone with a 2D approach or even a less detailed version of the one used. Instead, the levels are vibrant and colorful, clean and easy to look at.
No matter how large and confusing a puzzle can appear with its loops and curves, figuring out where to go is always hassle free because of how accessible the crisp graphics make it. Another nice touch is the pixelated surfaces of the levels that evaporate to normality once you pass through them. It’s not much but at least it adds a unique look to the experience.
The music is your basic techno remix that is so soft, it could put you to sleep. But the sound effects of the metal ball skidding on different surfaces is refreshingly effective in what it’s trying to represent for the hearing impaired: a ball rolling around.
All in all, Puzzle Dimension’s biggest weakness is itself. A puzzle game is always limited to who it attracts and how it does so. If you like games with a well-done sense of challenge and progression in difficulty, then this game delivers in spades. It’s not going to set the world on fire for its creativity but it is a new approach to an old idea. Yes, it’s a game about rolling a ball and not much more than that, but it is a good activity to test your brain on. That’s all you can ask for with a puzzle, right?
Puzzle Dimension has an excellent sense of progression and makes good use of the 3D graphics, which enhance the simple-minded gameplay. Overall, it's enjoyable and very addicting.