Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
Do you need some help with your puzzle-spelunking? Check out our Puzzle to the Center of the Earth tips and tricks guide!
Puzzle to the Center of the Earth is a puzzle platformer in the most literal sense. The game has players manipulating platforms with a match-three mechanic, with the ultimate goal of journeying further down toward the center of the earth. With bright visuals, smart mechanics, and a satisfying brand of puzzle-solving, Puzzle to the Center of the Earth is a very worthwhile download.
As a spelunker, players can move about caverns by sliding their fingers across the bottom part of the screen. As they approach sets of colored blocks underground, they can then tap and slide to link blocks of the same color together and break them. Breaking blocks allows players to move deeper down in a level, which contains an exit on the bottom of the screen.
If this was all there was to Puzzle to the Center of the Earth, it would merely be amusing. Luckily, the game has a lot of smart additions to the gameplay to keep things interesting and minimize frustration. In addition to being able to destroy blocks of the same color, players can drop individual blocks down to create higher platforms or link up more combinations. They can also unlock formulas that allow for mismatched blocks of a certain order to be linked and broken for a special ability, like an explosion or extra energy.
Speaking of energy, part of Puzzle to the Center of the Earth's challenge comes from its energy mechanic. At the start of every level, players have a limited amount of actions they can apply to blocks. This can be replenished through using an energy formula or breaking sets of blocks containing additional energy, and its the strategic balance of breaking blocks and preserving energy that enhances the puzzles. On top of all this, Puzzle to the Center of the Earth boasts multiple environments with over 80 levels, purchasable gear, hidden items to discover, unlockable characters, environmental hazards, and more. The game, put simply, has a lot to offer, which is surprising for being free-to-play.
Puzzle to the Center of the Earth does have a few issues, but they only impact the game experience minimally. Controlling the camera and touching blocks on the edges of the game screen can confuse both players and the phone as to what command is desired, though I never once actually pulled up the dashboard or notification center while playing. Also, the free-to-play structure, while mostly completely great and unobtrusive, locks away some items in the store - reserving them only for players that will pay for them. Luckily, Puzzle to the Center of the Earth is completely playable without this gear, although it's a bit trickier at times. Finally, the number of lives free players have are limited, with just three lives that replenish over time. But again, this isn't a huge problem considering the game is completely playable (and ad-free!) using this system.
Overall, Puzzle to the Center of the Earth is a fantastic game. Its blend of platforming and puzzling is smart, fun, and most certainly replayable. Plus, it's free and doesn't badger players with in-app purchases or advertisements. And if players enjoy the game enough, they can make a one time purchase to sidestep the game's life limit. Definitely give this game a look.