Puzzle Dimension: Turning our brains upside-down

July 31, 2011

Using spatial relations to literally twist a simple puzzle game upside-down, Puzzle Dimension is the newest head-scratcher available for download on PSN. Playing as a golden ball, you are required to navigate floating platforms to collect flowers needed to open an exit portal. Limited to only rolling or jumping one square at a time, you learn quickly that a single misstep will mean a dive into the void, necessitating starting over from the beginning.

Divided into 10 themes of 10 levels each, the different themes introduce you to new obstacles that you must use or avoid to accomplish your goal. Starting out with a simple introduction and then quickly moving towards tough challenges, these puzzles will have you soon scratching your head as you try to figure out the best path to navigate, especially towards later themes that use combinations of traps from all the levels that came before.

You begin with crumbling platforms you can only touch once, then move on to fire grates that will kill you a second time you touch them and then progress to ice blocks you can’t stop on, metal spikes, toggled platforms, spring jumps, invisible blocks, transporter nodes and on and on. The puzzle designers specifically try to twist your world around with obtuse paths that twist around underneath you to the effect one platform could have two flowers on it, one above, one below. Many times you need to defy your take on gravity by rolling off the edges, hoping that you are correct in lining up the platform below you which was formerly the ceiling.

This is the bread and butter of the game and it does it well, lulling you in with easy introductions but ultimately going for the throat as the themes progress. Many times I found myself excited that I had finally reached the last flower, allowing me to open the portal and leave, only to discover my path to the portal gone. One frustrating element is the constant need for trial and error; one accidental misstep requires you to reload and try again. More often than not I sat for minutes staring at the puzzle before I even began trying to see if I could figure out the trick, before I fell victim to the traps I didn’t know were there.

Each theme requires you to collect a certain amount of flowers before the next theme is opened; this progression ensures you have at least beaten some of the lower themed hard levels before you are subjected to the increasingly-insane combination of traps later. In addition to unlocking extra puzzles, collecting flowers also allows you to change motifs of the puzzles themselves. These background changes highlight the beauty of the graphics that straddles an old-school/HD line. Emphasized by the 8-bit soundtrack, each puzzle of platforms and flowers are represented in blocky graphics, but when you roll close to them, they transform into a fully realized versions of themselves. It is not necessary to change every block, but there is a score system associated with changing all platforms and doing it within a certain time due to multipliers.

With 100 puzzles to beat with increasing levels of difficulty, Puzzle Dimension is well worth the price, if you have the patience to think outside and around the box.

Pros: Excellent use of 3-Dimensional space, great learning curve
Cons: Unforgiving of missteps, higher levels may be too challenging for average player

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.