February 1st, 2013 | By Mark Isaacson
The most important thing you need to know about Puzzle Retreat is that no matter what level of experience you are as a gamer, be it ultimate or basic, you’ll all get something out of it. Yes, that’s a big claim to make, but it’s relevant here. Puzzle Retreat really is an all-rounder.
The trick is in the puzzles themselves. From the beginning, you’re given brief explanations in order to solve each new grid, a number of empty spaces that need to be filled by every piece available on the board. The main puzzles pieces are ice blocks but with progress you’ll discover various other types of pieces that alter the flow of each solution. Fire pieces eliminate any pre-existing ice blocks on the grid, arrows send pieces in different directions and the ice blocks themselves will appear in lots of four or five (meaning, five separate pieces that fill any available gaps one at a time).
If you found that paragraph a little confronting or confusing, I wouldn’t panic. It makes a lot more sense to see the puzzles in action in order to understand how easy it really is, and the more you play the more comfortable you’ll become as the puzzles slowly increase the difficulty level.
At times you’ll be going over a single puzzle again and again before you finally crack it, but the game goes easy by allowing you to backtrack or restart without any kind of punishment. For a gamer like me, I’d love a little extra difficulty beyond what’s here, perhaps the option of a timer or a limited amount of restarts would be good. But that’s not taking away from the inventive nature of the Puzzle Retreat, it’s a joy to play either way.
The Voxel Agents have played an interesting hand here. The first number of puzzles will keep you going for a short while depending on how quick you pick it up, but beyond that there’s a number of puzzle packs that extends the life of the game. There’s a few different packs available at launch, most at $0.99c that feature a fair few new puzzles each. While it can be a risk to ask a user to purchase more content to get the most out of it, in this case it’s a more than reasonable question to ask, especially given the affordable cost (compared to many other games that provide such an option) and the enjoyable nature of the game.
Puzzle Retreat is for everyone. Its design is both colourful and clean, though there’s a lack of audio or music to accompany the gameplay outside of the moving blocks and a quick flourish once you complete each puzzle. To some it may seem a little too simplistic at first but in truth that’s the entire point. But don’t consider it easy, that would also be underestimating some of the later levels and content packs.
The Voxel Agents have created arguably the most balanced puzzle game on the App Store to date, and the ability to continually add content as an option to its players means there’s an unlimited amount of opportunities as to where it can go.