Platform: PC Games
Rush, a puzzle game by Two-Tribes (creators of Toki Tori), is a game for the patient. Not because it's slow to load or anything like that, but because the puzzles are, especially later on, a little trial and error. And the only way to solve them without hints is, indeed, by trying, thinking, and trying again. At later levels, it will take patience not to hit the hints buttons, because there is often only one solution, and it's rarely the obvious one. It's recently been released for the Mac, so we've been asked to review it. Here's the skinny.
RUSH, like EDGE, uses the cubes of various colour look, and, beyond that, there's not actually that much to say. The UI is simple, the levels are a kind of off white, with stacked cubes in a colour wheel surrounding the level, and there are up to four colours of moving cubes that you have to guide to the end-zones, which are, obviously, similarly colour coded. There are some levels that look especially nice in motion, and others that look pretty dull (especially early on), but the visuals, it seems, are merely a backdrop to the gameplay.
The music, again like EDGE, is generally drum and bass or electronica (I have trouble differentiating sometimes), and the sounds of the level itself consist of, essentially, four noises. The “flump-flump-flump” of your moving cubes, the dull thump when they hit a wall, the sort of sparkly noise you get when a cube hits an exit box, and, the sound you're going to get tired of very quickly... the falling note of something going wrong. You won't hear it too often at first, but later on, it will become incredibly annoying, as you hear it again... and again... and again. Apart from the soundtrack, there's really not much to talk about, and, again, it forms more of a backdrop to the gameplay, rather than a full partner in the game, as it were.
Ah, now here we come to the meat of the game. Every puzzle game has rules, and this game has three basic ones. Firstly, cubes will go straight on until they hit something or fall off an edge. Secondly, when they hit a wall, they'll stop for a moment, then try to go right. Finally, they'll go backwards if they can't go right. Gameplay from this point is pretty similar to the old dreamcast game Chu-Chu Rocket, where, using these rules and a few special tiles, you guide the coloured cubes to their colour coded gates, without collision, fall-off, or endless looping. At first, you'll only have directional arrows, which, obviously, move the cubes in the indicated direction. After that will come things like stop-signs (pauses the cube for a second), conveyors (moves cubes one square without changing their move direction), and splitters (which move the first cube left, the next right).
The thing is, from medium difficulty onwards, a few of the puzzles seem a little too obtuse, and, when you do finally get a solution on said levels, you're scratching your head trying to work out what the heck you just did. On top of this, solution checking can be painful, because once you have a collision or a cube falling off, the cubes stop moving, and you can only see immediate mistakes, instead of ones further down the road as a result. This, from personal experience, leads to frustration. But for those who give up, lose patience, or just want to see the pretty cubes move, there are two hint systems in place. The one with two cubes shows whether you've placed your tiles right, the three cubes shows you where tiles should be, without saying which tiles should be where.
The game's difficulty curve can best be described as “erratic”, because the levels that involve timing and directional changes are a lot harder than just the ones with directional changes, and, because of the way puzzle unlocking works (finish a number of puzzles, get 5 more, until the selection screen is full. Finish a percentage of the full screen, get the next difficulty), you're guaranteed to have more difficult puzzles mixed in, with little way to tell beforehand what the difficulty is.
The game is fairly good, but the trial and error based play and erratic difficulty curve of the mid to late game may alienate some players, and it's quite clear that the puzzles, not visuals or music, are the focus. If you've got a logical mind with a good sense of timing, then by all means give this a shot. If you like puzzle games, at least try it out. If you're not patient at all, don't. Just don't get it. It'll be better that way. Overall, the concept is good... but it does feel like it needs more polish.