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Review: Mercury Hg

Mercury Hg brings back the Mercury franchise for the first time since 2007. Has it still got the same flow?

The aim of Mercury Hg is to get your blob of mercury from one point of a map to another, solving puzzles and overcoming obstacles along the way. Sounds like a pretty simple premise, right? Well, turns out it’s also a pretty simple game.

Mercury Hg is the series’ debut on PS3 and Xbox 360, having previously appeared on PS2, Wii and PSP. It follows the same process as the others before it, with obstacles to be avoided, mazes to navigate and puzzles to solve, all while keeping as much of your blob of mercury from falling off the stage as possible.

While not controlling the blob directly, you control the actual level, tilting it in order for the mercury to move. There are things to look out for, such as switches that only activate when your blob is a specific colour, conveyor belts, attractors, repulsors and sticky floor tiles, among others, all there to impede your progress along the way. You can do this with either the Analog stick, or on PS3, the controller’s Sixaxis.

The graphics are all very bright and colourful, as background visualisations react to the in-game music tracks, with the ability to play your own straight from your hard drive if you wish. It all makes for great eye candy – and sometimes even a distraction – while playing. Along the side of the screen are bars showing the levels of pitch and roll you’re applying, as well as a timer to show how long you’ve been playing, how many bonus pickups you’ve collected in the level, and a Mercury gauge to tell you how much of your blob you have left. The menus are a clean white, with the level-select screen based upon the Periodic Table of Elements, and every level named after an element, which is a clever touch.

The meat of the game lies in Discovery mode, where you’ll earn Atoms upon completion of levels. Bonus Atoms can be earned by finishing without losing any Mercury, finishing before the target time, and collecting all the bonus items in every level. Early levels should see you sweep the board with ease, but as the puzzles get progressively harder, you’ll find yourself having to repeat puzzles in search of ways to shave seconds off your time, or to take things a bit slower in order to keep your Mercury intact. These Atoms are saved up and used to unlock new level sets, in order of their Element classification.

Altogether, there are 60 levels in the initial release, with two further paid DLC packs of 30 levels each to come later, bringing the total up to 120. There are 25 further bonus levels where you start with half of your Mercury blob and have to gather the rest in vials scattered around the levels before you finish, as well as a Challenge mode, where you have to complete a series of levels in a row, meeting certain stipulations along the way.

The whole game is… while I won’t say “misplaced”, I often got the feeling that it’d be an ideal game for smartphones, which is a bit funny considering that the series started off handheld before going to the home consoles. The level-tilting control scheme just seems like it was built for an accelerometer, and its quick levels seem like they’re designed for playing in short bursts, while also retaining that “one more go” factor many puzzle games tend to have. That being said, it’s still a fantastic game, and its low price should certainly be an incentive to give it a go.

Developer: Eiconic Games
Genre: Puzzle
Price: £3.99/€4.99/$4.99/400MSP, with 2 DLC packs to come in late October/early November for £1.99/€2.99/$2.99/240MSP each
Time: Pretty short, Discovery mode will only take you about 2-3 hours to finish everything at least once.
Gripes: The only problem I had was that I was left wanting more when I’d cleared everything.
Get it for the: Quick pick-up-and-play puzzler at budget price.
Full Disclosure: PSN version reviewed, with review code supplied by the publisher.

 

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