A Difficult, Frustrating And Hypnotically Addictive Puzzler
Developed by Indie studio Sometimes You, Energy Cycle Edge is a sequel to the previous game in the franchise, Energy Cycle, providing a challenging, frustrating and hypnotically addictive puzzle game. With 44 levels to boot and each requiring a lot of time to complete, Energy Cycle Edge is an absorbing puzzler but one that’s likely to alienate those who have never played the original or don’t have the patience the game demands to complete its difficult challenges.
The game starts out with this puzzle…
Boasting a thumping techno soundtrack and an abstract background, each puzzle involves changing the colour of orbs on a grid so they all match. Starting with a simple S shape and quickly progressing to more challenging and difficult patterns, you use the directional buttons to navigate between each orb and press X to change the colour. In doing so, every adjacent orb on the Y and/or X axis it’s aligned to will change. Much like completing a Rubik’s Cube, Energy Cycle Edge requires a lot of trial and error, resulting in many exasperated sighs as you change all but one colour on the grid meaning you need to restart large portions of the puzzle to figure out where you went wrong. Of course, once you start to get the hang of the simple but challenging concept it does become a little easier but with no tutorial or on-screen prompts to help you, Energy Cycle Edge throws you in the deep end and lets you figure it out yourself.
Once you start to get to grips with the two dimensional puzzles , the game is given an extra dimension of challenge by literally changing the puzzles to three dimensional shapes and intricately connected orbs. While these later levels went far beyond my own skill level to complete, they’re sure to appeal to puzzle game fans itching for a serious challenge in trying to complete these colossal tasks. The progression to that point is actually well designed though, with each of the levels increasing in difficulty and challenge. This is then split further into four different groups, beginning with 180 degrees, to 45 degrees and eventually winding up with a fully fledged three dimensional cube in the game’s last level.
…Before finishing up with three dimensional, inter connected shapes
There’s a few customisation options here too including a classic cell mode as a nod to those who played the original and random colours which mixes things up and adds a layer of unpredictability to the mix. Despite these aesthetic changes, the core gameplay remains the same throughout your play time. It’s worth mentioning too that all puzzles are unlocked from the start meaning if you get stuck on one you can simply exit to the menu and go and try a different puzzle. It’s a nice inclusion but to be honest, if you’re struggling with the early levels, the later ones only stack up that challenge further.
The trouble with Energy Cycle Edge is that it seems catered for a very specific audience and makes little effort to encourage newcomers into seeing what the game has to offer. With no tutorial, hints or even on-screen prompts, Energy Cycle Edge leaves it up to you to figure it out as you go along. While the product description does go some way to alleviate this, the lack of presentation for this in-game is disappointing. Still, for those after a serious challenge, Energy Cycle Edge is the perfect game to test those skills but beyond those puzzle game enthusiasts, there isn’t much to entice casual puzzle game fans to enter the fray.
The soundtrack is good and complements the visual design perfectly
With so many puzzle games out there, Energy Cycle Edge doesn’t quite do enough to stand out in the market despite its simple but difficult concept. When you compare it to titles like Professor Layton, The Witness, Thomas Was Alone and even Q.U.B.E. 2, the game pales in comparison. With some on-screen prompts and beginner levels to ease you into the challenge, Energy Cycle Edge could be a simple and absorbing puzzle game for the masses but in its current state, the game is much better designed for die-hard puzzle enthusiasts.