As hinted by the name, Puzzle Adventure Blockle is a puzzle game that takes on the identity of an adventure. Japanese publisher and developer Intense has set the title apart from the competition by offering a story-driven experience that continually expands upon fundamental game mechanics. While there are still plenty of puzzles to solve, the storyline and obscure cast of characters are there to provide context to the on-screen actions.
The adventure stars a cute “kat” named Kulu and a beautiful goddess called Arika who has lost her memory. One day, the mayor of Kulu’s village naturally desires world domination, and in order to achieve this he summons Arika to aid Kulu in tracking down the seven world stones. After a quick pep talk from the adorably sophisticated mayor, Kulu and Arika set out on their quest across the land of the “Wonder Labyrinth” – a world full of mysterious creatures of all sorts – to find the stones.
A diverse cast is featured throughout, and the player can expect to be bombarded with regular cut scenes in-between the levels - along with plenty of bickering among the characters. None of these conversations are particularly intriguing but at least provide some added perspective about the crazy adventure Kulu and Arika are on. Due to the text heavy nature of the dialogue, however, many scenes drag on; this may prompt players to skip them altogether.
Slotted in between these overly dramatic verbal exchanges are the puzzle sections. Each world is represented as a themed map; the first world is basically a ten level tutorial that teaches the player the essentials. The idea of Puzzle Adventure Blockle is to guide Kulu to the exit door in each stage. To do this you’ll need to avoid obstacles, collect keys, climb steps, rotate the stage with the help of Arika’s powers, and make use of various objects and mechanics slowly introduced across each world. Players can rotate the stage left or right with a simple press of the shoulder buttons and move Kulu about with the control stick. There is also a welcome rewind feature which can be activated with the Y button. This undoes any missteps that have been made along the way, and seemingly makes the implementation of a life system near pointless.
Adding an extra layer of depth are an additional three challenges included in every stage. Earn a three star score and you will be awarded with a crown that signifies you have fully completed a stage. Per world there are 30 stars to collect and 10 crowns; each star has a specific requirement. These include collecting the gem in each level and not exceeding a set amount of rotations or footsteps. If you can complete the puzzles as well as fulfil these requirements, the crown is yours. This can become quite the challenge when other stage mechanics come into play - such as slippery blocks that make Kulu slide, warp pipes that require Kulu to warp from a certain angle, locked doors that need keys, and movable blocks that need to be strategically repositioned while at the same time not put the furry creature at risk.
The tricky part is placing Kulu in the perfect spot, so when a level is then rotated he falls to the intended position. The further you progress, the more you may find yourself repeating levels. Puzzles may require multiple attempts, including excessive rotations and movements before it all clicks. Often you may find you are approaching a level the wrong way as each one is a different size and shape. Fortunately, the game displays transparent green blocks around Kulu which indicate the movement options around him. Some stages also allow flexibility in terms of how you find a solution.
The enjoyment of Puzzle Adventure Blockle comes from completing stages and then revisiting each one to ace it. The subtle increase in difficulty encourages the player to remain focused at all times; additional game changers include time limits, and various other restrictions. There are also more objects introduced such as hard blocks – which don’t move when a level is rotated, adding further complexity to puzzles. Overall, the learning curve in Puzzle Adventure Blockle is both fair and friendly in its design - making it accessible to all skill levels.
This approachable nature extends to the artwork that has been used illustrate the characters and game world. The anime characters ooze emotion while the different puzzle elements, backdrops and world maps do a satisfactory job at keeping each area feeling fresh with plenty of bright colours. There are also a number of fancy 3D animations thrown in for Kulu as well as other content like the game’s menus. This title looks even better when the Switch is undocked, with a crisp representation of the artwork. Sound and music of Puzzle Adventure Blockle matches the visual presentation - with fun, loud, and upbeat tunes sending a message to the player that everyone is having fun on this grand adventure. The only low note is one particular song played during the puzzle segments becomes rather irritating after listening to it several times over.
At first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking Puzzle Adventure Blockle was a cheap and nasty mobile port. This is not the case. While simplistic in terms of its design, the game’s art, audio, and overall execution is hard to fault. The weakest aspect of this title is ironically the story. The excessive script that sets it apart from many other puzzle games is what prevents it from being a more tolerable, accessible and generally more enjoyable title at the same time. The positive to take from this is that the puzzle segments are at least fun to play for both short and prolonged periods, and cater to all skill levels as each one can be merely passed or completely perfected. Anyone looking for a good puzzle game, that continues to add extra layers to its core mechanics as progress is made, may want to take a look at Puzzle Adventure Blockle.