Developer: The Voxel Agents
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.3
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Coming from the minds behind the hectic Train Conductor series, Puzzle Retreat is quite a serene departure. It’s an immensely simple puzzle game that offers no strict time limit, no 3 stars to acquire, not even a scoreboard. It’s simply about enjoying the experience. By offering such minimalist things, such simplicity proves to be a double edged sword for Puzzle Retreat.

That’s not to say that Puzzle Retreat isn’t a tough puzzle game. It is. It’ll cause much head scratching and almost certainly a hint of frustration as players struggle to figure out how to solve a puzzle. Impressive going, given the simple tools involved.

All that’s required of the player is to move blocks of ice so that they can fill the squares that litter each level. The catch is that the blocks of ice fill the first open slot they come across, and every available slot must be filled. Blocks can slide across filled slots, though, which does help to an extent. There are other types of blocks to make things more complicated, such as multi numbered ones that unleash individual slabs of ice in a straight path, arrows that redirect the ice, stop blocks and fire blocks, which melt ice.

Combined, this makes for a game that requires plenty of planning ahead as well as a hefty dose of experimentation in order to solve a puzzle. Fortunately, a step by step undo button as well as a restart button helps matters and encourages learning from mistakes. Puzzle Retreat is still an immensely challenging title within hardly any time at all.

There are discussion boards available from within the game, for each level, but there’s no Hints system. Something that Puzzle Retreat would have really benefited from.

Given such a high level of difficulty, Puzzle Retreat should last many players quite a while, providing they don’t mind that the sole competition involved is with themselves. For the initial asking price, three packs are available including 96 puzzles. A further three packs of 24 puzzles can be purchased for $0.99 each. There’ll be times when there’s that urge to cast Puzzle Retreat aside, frustrated at a puzzle, but there’s still always that urge to go back, eventually, and defeat it.

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