If you’re someone who takes online IQ tests for fun because you enjoy the challenge (and there’s a lot more of you out there than anyone will admit), Griddle is the perfect game for you. For everyone else, Griddle is the cerebral workout that’ll help you learn to beat your brainiest mates at those online IQ tests so you can coax them to put down their books and join you for a night out.Griddle, which the second offering from Finish indie developers Punch Wolf Game Studios, will likely be one of the most challenging puzzle games you’ll play this year – but don’t let that put you off. There’s no feeling quite like finally figuring out that heart-shaped level 26 puzzle you’ve been stuck on for days.
The challenge in Griddle seems to come as much from it’s very impressive behind the scenes shuffling algorithm as it does its self-imposed pressure. You’re very unlikely to be presented with the pieces in the same order twice, so it really feels almost like you’re dealing with a different puzzle every time. If you’re a trial and error kind of learner, this might seem like an insurmountable obstacle to surpass. However, if you stick with it, you’ll likely start feeling your spatial reasoning skills improve. It’s a bit like lifting weights for your brain.
The shuffling system works the same whether you’re playing in ‘Time Attack’ or ‘Moves Challenge’. As the name implies, ‘Time Attack’ gives you an (all too short) countdown timer within which you have to complete all of the level’s puzzles. Similarly, ‘Moves Challenge’ gives you a set number of moves within which you need to complete a specified number of puzzles. The idea of a timed challenge might seem more intense, but the countdown clock in ‘Moves Challenge’ really sneaks up on you. Both are equally difficult, equally frustrating and, most importantly, equally fun.
If you find yourself coming up short on time or moves, fortunately, there are booster cards that can be deployed at your discretion. Giving you either extra time or extra moves depending on your game mode they are all but essential to success once you hit the higher levels of the game. Bonus cards are awarded for successful completion of each level through ‘loot boxes’. In the timed challenges, completing the level on normal will win you a bronze or silver loot box while completing the level on hard will earn you a gold or silver loot box. The value of the loot boxes increases the higher you climb through the levels.
If you find yourself running short on bonus cards (don’t worry – happens to the best of us) Griddle has solutions for you. As a free-to-play game, Griddle offers both bonuses for ad watching and in-app purchases. So if you find yourself stuck, scroll back through time and give some of the levels you’ve already beat another try. When you successfully complete them again (hopefully this time on hard) you’ll have the option to double your rewards. While there’s a limit to how often you can collect this way, it’ll like be enough to help get you past the next hurdle. If it isn’t, it’s always possible to purchase additional loot boxes as in-app purchases (just keep in mind that the prices listed are in euros rather than dollars).
Going beyond the gameplay itself, the graphics in Griddle lend the game something of an arcade feel. If you’re someone who’s put off from other ‘mind games’ and their abundance of white space and clean, minimalist lines for fear of morphing into a tweed-wearing, Shakespeare-quoting brain box, that’s not going to be a problem here. There’s no sense of snobbery here – this is a tough game any puzzle fan can get behind.
The in-game music also contributes to Griddle’s almost arcade-like feel, but it does get rather repetitive. This is a game you’re likely going to be spending a lot of time in so it becomes a bit of a problem. It might be better to switch off the game’s music and throw on one of those ‘classical music for focus’ playlists because you’ll need all the help you can get if you want to conquer Griddle.
Griddle is a smooth performing, sharp looking game that shows the flexibility of the Unity game engine. It also showcases a different side of Punch Wolf Studios who previously released the fun and mildly trippy SCAWAR Space Combat as an Android exclusive. Hopefully, Griddle won’t be a one-off. As many puzzle games are out on the market right now, there can never be too many truly tough yet unpretentious puzzle games.