August 12, 2006

[i]Eets[/i] is a great casual puzzle game for pretty much anyone from casual gamer on up. It is somewhat like the classic Incredible Machine in its building aspects. It’s a fairly easy game to get into and has a community aspect that should keep the game going for a long time.

[i]Eets[/i] himself is a cute little white monster who wanders around and, well, eating things (which most often take the forms of marshmallows or “marshmallow buds”). The things he eats affect his mood. You do not directly control [i]Eets[/i], but you place objects and foodstuffs around the environment to guide him to the puzzle piece that is his goal.

Many of the objects are passive and merely need to be placed so that their effects take place at the right stage of the journey, but more than a few need to be clicked on at the right time to keep [i]Eets[/i] going. For example, some of the marshmallow buds in the game change his movement so he can make longer jumps, or certain items will explode when they fall in order to remove an obstruction. Other items need to be clicked at the right time to activate them, like whales that spit [i]Eets[/i] to higher levels, or guns that shoot chocolate chips to trigger other items. The items are slowly introduced so that you are not overwhelmed trying to learn to use all kinds of new things at once. The downside is that some of the more spectacular items and obstacles do not appear until late in the game, but it’s certainly fun and engaging from the get-go.

The challenge level of [i]Eets[/i] is slightly on the easy side, but many of the puzzles are tricky, and even an experienced puzzler will have to spend a little thinking and trial and error time trying to break through a few of them. Some of the later puzzle elements, like flipping gravity upside down and angry robots, really take a lot of careful planning to avoid or use properly. I’m almost certain that my solutions to their puzzles were not always the same as the official ones, but that’s half the fun of a puzzle game anyway (you even get rewards for using less pieces than required).

All of the puzzles are presented in a wonderful cartoon style. Everything has nice smooth animations even when idle, and everything is in bright pastel colors. Pretty much everything has a face and an expression, and even the simplest marshmallow bud has some personality. The focus here is on cute. So if you want to get your girlfriend to play computer games while you hit up the Playstation, this may be a good choice.

Once you finish the game, there are a few rewards you can earn for your trophy room. You get a few for solving puzzles with fewer items, one for beating the game, and a bunch for doing certain actions a lot. I wouldn’t say these really make you want to unlock them, but at least it’s something. The better way to extend the life of the game is with custom levels.

The level editor in [i]Eets[/i] is a piece of cake to use, although coming up with a challenging concept for a puzzle and getting it to work perfectly within the games physics can be a little tricky. With patience and tweaking, you should be able to pump out some excellent levels easily. The building tools and testing are all well integrated into the same package, and you can easily adjust the game environment, as well as provide hints and an official solution. I do wish the tool had a tutorial because when you first start laying out objects, they seem to have some confusing buttons, but like everything in this game. The buttons and items all have tooltips if you mouse over them, and there aren’t too many controls to learn. I recommend building simple levels and working your way up to your more complex ideas if you want to master the techniques involved.

The [i]Eets[/i] website is packed with forums and tools to share levels and replays. If you are really stuck on any of the trickier puzzles, this should help with your frustrations. It also extends the length of the game considerably, which is a good thing since the main flaw of the game is that it’s a bit short. The site is very nicely done and clearly receives regular attention from the game developers. It’s nice to see this much support for a $20 game when larger companies seem to care less about you despite your $60 purchases.

[i]Eets[/i] is short, but this really isn’t a big problem for something that is a $20 purchase. The entire experience is fun, and if you want more of it, there’s a really great community portion that Klei has put out there. The community aspect helps the game far outlive similar affairs. I’d say you should at least give the demo a try, since it is a timed version of the full game (with a fairly long timer on it).

Score: 5/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.