App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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Gnomes can be an unexpectedly difficult game to get into. Not because it’s dull or irritating, but because it can be more than a little confusing at first. However, with a little perseverance and eventual understanding it can be quite the fun little water physics-meets-paint cleaning puzzle game.
So gnomes apparently store all of their paint in factories. Factories prone to massive explosions. Every time such an even occurs – which is all the time – they have to clean it up. And that’s where the actual gaming begins. Players are faced with a gravity-defying level covered in no small amount of paint and tasked with redirecting water in order to clean it all up. Wind and giant bubbles are the primary tools on hand, but there’s also the occasional need for splashing a button or otherwise utilizing certain objects in the environment. If a mistake is made the water can be shut off assets can be fiddled with as many times as needed with no penalties.
As with other liquid physics puzzle games, Gnomes is just fun to mess around with. Simply finishing a level can be a major undertaking, but collecting the coins scattered around or getting 100% of the paint cleaned up can be even tougher. But by far it’s the visual touches that carry everything. Some stages are actually comprised of large (from a gnome’s perspective) statues with houses on their shoulders, or hillsides with faces. Trees even spring up as the water begins to spread.
It can take a couple of attempts to get the wind currents positioned correctly or removed, and some of the levels feel like they require luck more than skill, but really the biggest issue Gnomes has is the awkward beginning. Unlike typical iOS puzzle games it appears as though all levels are unlocked from the start (depicted with a giant green check mark above them), and after completing what I’m still fairly sure was the first level I was treated to what looked like an end game screen and a “Thank you for playing” message. Then the game restarted. Then I picked the second level and everything began to progress normally. Completing that first stage took a while, too, as the tutorial message didn’t pop up until I tapped on a small sign with an exclamation point hovering over it. It was a tiny one so I didn’t notice it until after I’d been tapping away at practically everything else on the screen for a minute or two.
It doesn’t exactly have the smoothest start, but Gnomes is a pretty cool water physics puzzle game. Levels can be agonizingly complicated (in a good way) and the visuals evoke a little Daniel Merriam, which is very cool. Water wranglers, feel free to take a look.