What is in this mysterious package? Where has it come from, and where is it going?…
I mentioned in a recent review about the amount of twin stick shooters available on the iPhone… well that micro-genre doesn’t hold a candle to the puzzle game. There are thousands, and they come in all shapes and sizes. You wouldn’t think so based on the amount of match 3 games out there, but with puzzle games there is far more scope for both creative and unique possibilities than any other genre. Because of this, every now and again a puzzle game comes along that tries, and often succeeds, at doing something different… and it’s here where The Package, from Rocket Pocket Games, falls
A cross – of sorts – between the excellent iBlast Moki and Enigmo, The Package is a physics based puzzler that sees you guiding a cardboard parcel from one area to another. Ok, so it doesn’t sound that compelling, but through tantalising level design and sheer stubbornness to succeed, you can’t help but feel it is of upmost importance to get that damn box to the level exit… and on to the next brain bender.
Levels are displayed in a 2.5D view, which to the casual gamers out there is a description of a game built with three dimensional objects, but displayed in a side on view. The benefit of the 3D rendering, in this game at least, is to convey the realistic behaviour of the objects, and their interaction with each other, based on the laws of physics. In other words it feels like you are handling real objects in real space.
Much like iBlast Moki, the game has a play button for activating the puzzle. Press play right away, and the the box appears from a small doorway and falls to the floor, motionless. The aim here, is to use widgets (tools and machine parts) in various arrangements to carry the box to the exit, in this case another doorway. Pressing stop will reset the puzzle, allowing you to fine tune your widget placement until eventually things all fall into place and your are successful.
Widgets are available from a pull down menu, and each level you are limited by type and the amount you can use. In general the widgets available are the ones you need to complete the level, but as the levels often have multiple solutions, there may be a few extra items at your disposal. These widgets include, hammers, bombs, jack-in-the-box style boxing gloves, cannons, wind turbines and conveyers, (both available in various directions) as well as more futuristic items such as teleporters. Using the touch screen it’s a simple task of selecting a widget, adding it to the game space and dragging it into position. Some widgets have customisable attributes, such as the timing of bombs, while others must be interacted with once you hit play, such as the cannons angle of fire.
Presented across various themed areas, such as industrial, ancient and futuristic, the levels get harder and harder… fast. By just level six I was pretty much stuck, with no clue how to progress. However, generally the problem isn’t that it’s impossible, it’s just that I found myself not thinking out of the box enough. It reminds me of what Spock says in Star Trek: “Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”… basically try everything and anything, it might just work! A testament to how well designed these levels are.
No doubt a result of the levels being painstakingly designed, the game consists of only 20 levels. The is some replayability to them though, not only can you try alternate ways to succeed, but to fully complete a level you need to collect the bonus packages floating around the levels. These require even more planning as you manipulate the path of the box to pass over a bonus package on it’s way to the level exit.
Not only are the levels well designed, they look good too. In fact the whole game is superbly presented with great tactile textures, physics and lighting effects. I have not tested the game on older devices, but on the 3GS and iPad (running in 2x view) it runs and looks fantastic. The interface allows you to pan the levels smoothly, as well as pinch zoom in and out to get a better view. It’s not perfect though, when manipulating widgets, they can sometimes catch on static level furniture, so accurate is the physics engine. But for ease of use they could easily ghost objects, allowing you to pass through each other, until you set that widget into place. My final gripe is that I’m not a big fan of the music, the sound effects are good, but the music is very repetitive, and considering you’ll be playing levels again and again, the music begins to grate. Luckily you can turn it off! These are tiny gripes and don’t really impede on the main experience.
The Package is an excellent puzzle game. But, be warned! it is very hard. Great for the hardcore puzzle heads out there, but it might scare some casual gamers off. If you love a challenge though, you won’t be able to put it down.
It remains a mystery what is inside the package itself… I’m sure we’ve all got our ideas, but for me I’m hoping it’s a toupee to cover all the hair I’ve pulled out while playing this game.
The package is out now on iPhone and iPod Touch for $1.99. Get it on