It’s a fact that simple puzzle games sell very well in today’s graphical jungle of photo realism and ‘life like characters’. This has been partially caused by the formation of the mobile phone gaming fraternity, though the simplicity and high score nature of the puzzle game has also contributed. It’s all very well having massive games with immersive environments … but the bus to work might be 20 minutes and for many gamers, that’s not long enough to whip out Zelda or Final Fantasy.
Before Ignition brought out Neves, there were about two isometric puzzle games on the DS. Neves is now with us and you can expect isometric pieces fitting into shadowy shapes on your screen. Loads of shapes, in fact. There are enough levels to get your brain in a total tiswas!
The main game has been divided up into virtual rooms you unlock and select on the menu screen, each room containing a large number of puzzles to solve which you can go through in any order. Cheesy, elevator-esque music ensues as you choose your puzzle, which is easy to do. The stylus takes over the game so there’s no button mashing to worry about.
Multiplayer is simple – race to finish your puzzle before your friend. This is both a plus and a minus for the game, as it can get very dull quite quickly, but is also very easy to pick up and get into. The game’s strengths are also its weaknesses. There’s also a speed mode against the clock for advanced players (which I found hard) so there’s plenty here for puzzle gurus to get stuck into.
The most notable downside for Neves is easy to discern about 30 seconds after picking it up, sadly. It’s the controls – a bit fiddly is a polite way to put it, especially trying to rotate a piece with your stylus. Since the entire game is stylus-controlled and graphically very simple, it’s a real shame that the controls were not mastered in testing. If you’re prepared to struggle through this major glitch with the help of the manual and persistent stylus-pressing, Neves should impress puzzle fans like you. For me, the controls may well prevent me from ever playing again. Struggling with an interface is just never fun.
If you can overcome your frustration at the controls (there is an easy tutorial), you’ll find this to be akin to taking a puzzle book with you on a long train journey. It’s a great idea and excellent at passing the time, using your little grey cells whilst doing so. As pressing as a crossword, this really gets hard and forces you to test the spatial areas of your brain. But like a puzzle book, it’s simple in terms of presentation and what’s on offer. Don’t pay more than you’d be willing to fork out for a cheap challenge.
Out of the three testers I used to compare the game controls; one had very little trouble and played for hours, another had considerable issue and gave it a few short goes, and another tried it for about five minutes before turning it off in disgust at the controls. All were avid gamers with experience at using the DS controls frequently. My view? It’s a decent, portable puzzle challenge but some gamers may find the controls very awkward. A definite try before you buy, for my money.