Puzzle games are a dime a dozen these days, but it’s rare when one requires the gamer to think logically and strategically. Puzzle Expedition by MumboJumbo Games for the Nintendo DS is just that. With 90 levels to go through, Puzzle Expedition takes gamers on a hunt for a missing father, and delivers plenty of chances to make your brain explode.
I love a good challenge, don’t get me wrong, but some of the levels in this game made my brain go a little loopy. With edges to climb, blocks to move, teleports to go through, and levers to pull, it’s easy to get a little mixed up in Puzzle Expedition. What is the one thing that saves this game? How easy it is to restart the level you are on. If you feel that you are stuck, or if you think that you’ve done the puzzle in the wrong order, just click on the start button, select to restart the level, and you’re good to go. There were many levels where I had to restart and since there is no timer, I didn’t feel any pressure to complete the puzzle in any particular time frame. If there are levels where, no matter how many times you restart you can’t seem to get the hang of it, you are given a certain amount of skips you can use to further your progress.
Like most games of this nature the beginning level is easy. There are no extra objects involved, and all you have to do is climb up a few things in order to get to the door. As each level progresses, your movements are then dependent on sequence, and you have to get it right otherwise you can’t reach your end target. Having to make sure that both Anna and Ben make it to the door, you switch back and forth between the characters, like in ilomilo single player, hoping that each move gets the two of you one step closer.
As I mentioned before, the plot revolves around a missing father, Anna’s to be more specific. The opening to Puzzle Expedition has a scrolling script from a page in her diary where she discusses the sudden disappearance of her father and that, due to limited finances, her search for him will be limited and short on time. Anna then teams up with Ben, a guide to help her through the Cambodian jungle, along with other areas, and your search begins. After you pass a certain amount of levels you are given more story, and that is how you find out how the expedition is going. The game isn’t heavy on the story, leaving the puzzles to be the primary focus. It works wonderfully though because, as I’ve said before in past reviews, not every game benefits from an overbearing story. What you get from Anna is enough to fill in any gaps one may have regarding her quest for her father. Nothing more, nothing less.
The graphics are cute but not kiddish, the levels are all well designed, and the use of color helps distinguish where you are in the game. Earth tones make you feel like you’re underground or in a cave, glacial hues are used when you’re traversing through the chilly, frozen tundra, and olive greens make the mind think of rich, jungle foliage. By utilizing color, and how we interpret it, the developer is easily able to tell a story, and show progression, without having to create intricate, overcomplicated sceneries. The music also helps, in terms of really representing where your characters are. For example, when you start off in the Cambodian jungle, the music is soft but rhythmic. It has a gentle tribal beat that is peaceful, semi-meditative, and is what you’d associate with when thinking of a jungle. Another reason why the music fits is how it doesn’t get overbearing or make the gamer feel like their gameplay has to be urgent and frenetic. The ambient sounds compliment the calm, logical style of the game.
Overall Puzzle Expedition is a well done game. I certainly wouldn’t suggest it for children, simply because I don’t feel that most are capable of thinking on that level, but it could be a game that a parent could play with a child to help encourage and develop their logic skills. It’s definitely something I could see both men and women enjoying, as it isn’t geared towards any particular gender, and is sure to engage gamers for hours.