April 7, 2009 11:59 AM | Michael Rose
We've all agonized over the solution to a sliding tile puzzle at some point. There's always a couple of pieces that just don't want to co-operate, and then once you've got those in the right position, now others have moved out of place... I'd say one of the only puzzles more frustrating than a sliding tile is the Rubik's Cube (is there anyone out there who has actually completed one of those things? I sure as hell haven't).
Cogs is Lazy 8 Studios' attempt at matching that frustration with the same level of fun. Rather than fit a whole picture perfectly into place, players must slide tiles around, some which have cogs attached to them, in order to line the toothy dials up and complete a number of different scenarios including blasting rockets into space and ringing bells in time with each other.
It's instantly noticeable that, for something as simple as a board of tiles, great lengths have been ventured to make Cogs as pretty as possible. All elements of play are in full 3D, although only on specific levels can the user rotate the playfield through a whole 360 degrees. With this kind of game the graphical style isn't exactly the most important element, so it's reassuring to see so much effort being put into looks.
And into gameplay too. Of course, with this kind of setup, the material is bound to be limited and later puzzles less varied, but Lazy 8 have managed to squeeze every idea possible out of the genre and then shadow any acts of repetition with clever objectives and outcomes. Not every puzzle features cogs, with some using pipes and the like. The ranking system too adds wonders to the gameplay and provides tons of replay value.
The 'true 3D' levels are by far the most exciting. Cogs venture round corners and the camera pans to reveal more tiles on the sides, top, bottom and the back. Some puzzles even feature the front and back panels actually being the same tiles but with different cogs on each, leading to some insane solutions required.
Cogs is also rather difficult. I like to think I'm not completely dense, but this game sure made me feel pretty stupid. To progress through the main Inventor Mode, collecting stars unlocks levels bit by bit. Stars are achieved not only by completing puzzles, but finishing them quickly and efficiently. The number of stars which I was awarded for my efficiency was close to zero, while my speediness left a lot to be desired, therefore making it exceedingly difficult to progress after a while.
However this meant I had to go back through puzzles already completed and do a better job, adding oodles of extra playtime. It wasn't boring having to retry past levels, though I guess I'd probably have a lot more fun if I wasn't so rubbish at it!
Cogs looks great and is perfect as one of those little timewasters for when you've got a couple of hours to burn, especially for a price of $9.99. If these kinds of puzzles are your cup of tea, there's plenty of fun to be had here. Just don't worry if you can't get your head around it all - I couldn't either and I still had great fun.
A release date of April 14th is set - check out the Lazy 8 Studios for more details.