Blockado Deep Sea and so my trilogy of Blockado reviews comes to an end, strangely enough with the fourth title in the series; a threesome of reviews that began with the third title, Blockado Mouontain. And last time we danced this merry puzzling jig I was playing games one and two simultaneously, Blockado Jungle and Desert, and if your eyes aren’t already spinning from all the numbers we have the scores to consider! For those of you in desperate need of a recap right about now, the Blockado series of puzzle games have been keeping my brain ticking over for the past couple of months.
The first two titles in the series, Blockado Jungle and Desert respectively, scored eight points a piece out of ten, while Blockado Mountain, the third title in the series (which I in fact played first) scored a resounding nine out of ten. And with only some minor tweaking required, alongside the continuation of the consistently good work developers Bitfield have already been putting into these titles, there was every chance that Blockado Deep Sea could get a perfect score and be hailed as the second coming of the puzzle messiah.
So you all should know the drill by now, if not go back and read my previous reviews of the original three titles. Blockado is a sliding-gliding-pushing-smushing-treasure-pleasure of a puzzle game, which requires of the player to do nothing more than relinquish a treasure chest out of a level, by navigating it along the horizontal or vertical axis, moving everything else that happens to be in the way. This includes, but is not limited to, standard blocks, ice blocks, spring blocks, magnet blocks, blocks that don’t move at all, tunnel blocks, coloured blocks, pressure activated blocks and… erm… starting blocks? No, wait, ignore that last one… Anyway, as you can guess, over the course of the first three games, the developers established all the different components of their puzzles, ramping up the difficulty a notch or two at every turn. So what’s different in Deep Sea, I hear you ask?
Well absolutely bloody nothing is almost the answer I have to give you. There is one minor change however, and that is the tweaking of the first person viewpoint manoeuvring system. My only major complaint for all three games so far was the hyper-sensitive camera-moving icon, which you could move pixel by pixel into the perfect place for you to view the puzzle before you, only for you to try and remove your thumb and see the whole puzzle twirl about 47 degrees to the left, skewing everything you were trying to achieve. So after much wrangling, and a bit of sweat from the boys at Bitfield, it would appear they’ve adjusted the camera, a bit. Maybe. I can’t be entirely certain, but it definitely seems to react more slowly to greater movements of my thumb on the icon, meaning when I move my thumb half an inch to the left, the level rotates accordingly. Perhaps I have just gotten used to it with time, but I certainly can’t complain as much about it now.
And although there have been no new puzzle elements added to Deep Sea, there have been some previously unexplored combinations of puzzle elements that have made their first appearance here. Like putting the magnets blocks onto ice blocks, so you have blocks that whiz around until they bash into something else, whether you like it or not. This is definitely the most difficult of the four games, but I never truly felt the difficult until the last ten levels of the main puzzle campaign, and even then I was only really stuck when I came to the “Hard” puzzles. You see, each game has a campaign split into four sections, each with ten levels apiece. You solve the first five, then have a choice of solving two “Ordinary” puzzles, before reaching the final puzzle, or take the difficult road and try on two “Hard” puzzles for size. “Ordinary” puzzles allow you to ask the game to assist with their solving, while the “Hard” ones are ruthless in their determination to pulverise your brain into a fine mist.
As with the previous titles, there are plenty of Bonus Puzzles, and extra ones, which can be downloaded or scanned via QR codes, using the camera on your iPhone. Nifty! These help add to the longevity, but many of the Bonus Puzzles this time around were rather similar. I don’t whether they were intended to have such a theme, but it seemed like each puzzle just had a couple of blocks moved around, before the developers had to go off to lunch or something, so they said “Well, that’ll do”. One thing not skimped on, as usual, are the graphics and music that accompany the game. The sound effects, in particular, I must give credit to, there’re some fantastic underwater ambiences, bubbling and gurgling while you play, with an occasional blast of whale song somewhere off into the distance. Seaweed coils and drifts around the field of play effortlessly, and everything fits the deep sea theme to a tee.
So, scores on the door time… Well I don’t think I can give Deep Sea that perfect figure, because it didn’t do anything to move the game as a whole on from Mountain, apart from adding a slight glimmer of difficulty to proceedings. How much difficulty it adds is up to your level of play. For me, having gone back and replayed some 200+ levels of Blockado, getting three stars across the board, I think I have become too accustomed to the current ins and outs of the puzzling elements in the game. I think if there are any more games to come in this franchise, why not take the movie route, and give the series a bit of a reboot? Take away some of the current puzzle solving tools, and give us something fresh and exciting. The perfect score has eluded Bitfield once again, but they can be proud in producing what I class as on of the finest puzzling series’ around for iOS gamers, and you should make your way through this series as I have… Just in the correct order, mind you.
MLG Rating: 9/10
Platform: iOS Release Date: 17/10/2011
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Blockado Deep Sea for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of three days on a iPhone. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.