If you haven’t played Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets, then worry not. Its sequel, Professor Lupo: Ocean, carries on the core gameplay mechanics of its predecessor, but familiarity with the first game is not essential to enjoy this one. Taking place within a space station submerged in water, Professor Lupo: Ocean is a puzzle game through and through, although one that ends rather too quickly.
The gameplay centres around your ability to navigate the maze-like structure of the space station, utilising switches and the flow of water to pass through barriers and reach the end of each level, all the while avoiding the various creatures roaming the corridors. You have direct control of a character simply referred to as a Clone, and you can also move the camera through the areas and activate switches independently, giving you control over the environment itself.
The story itself is mostly told through dialogue sequences as you progress through the space station. It feels rather throwaway and doesn’t hold much of a candle to the comparatively superior puzzle gameplay, but there’s enough here to keep you entertained. We particularly enjoyed the notion that upon death, you’re actually replaced by an entirely different clone. Quite morbid, in a way.
Surviving each stage requires you to take heed of the enemy creatures’ movement and attack patterns; for example, one such creature is a slow-moving blob outside of water, but when submerged can morph into a shark with lightning-fast reflexes and deadly teeth. Using the flow of water is crucial to your survival, though it can quite as easily cause your death and plunge you into a wall of spikes if you activate it at the wrong time.
As a puzzle game, Professor Lupo: Ocean is relatively easy to pick up, though proves itself to be quite tricky as you progress. The controls can be quite fiddly at times; you’ll often mistakenly take one or two steps too many, walking straight into the mouth of a foul beast. During moments when you’re against the clock, these mistakes unfortunately happen all too often.
Visually, the characters and environments are well designed, and although the graphics lack the polish and sheen of big-budget titles, there’s plenty of personality on display whether you’re playing on handheld or the big screen. Its score and voiceover work are similarly impressive, with ambient music perfectly suited to the game’s setting, and its characters fully voiced from start to finish.
Although not quite as meaty as its older sibling, Professor Lupo: Ocean boasts the same engaging puzzle gameplay, albeit with often unwieldy controls. It’s a short game, and not one you’re likely to come back to soon after completion, but with a relatively small price tag, it’s one you’d do well to pick up if you’re after an original puzzle title.