Puzzle games and mobile gaming come hand in hand, and while the market is awash with puzzlers, does Puzzle House: Mystery Rising stand out from the crowd or does it fade slowly into the mass of button combinations, secret codes, and hidden messages?
Puzzle House: Mystery Rising opens up with a fairly ominous synopsis:
The game begins on a country porch overlooking a stunning 3-D mountain range on the horizon. There is a set of binoculars to your right and an empty table to your left. Good luck! This is about the extent of direction that you’ll receive in this game that offers some of the most rewarding and challenging gameplay.
While it’s a mystery in itself, it already gives you the feeling that you’ll be trying to solve puzzles in just one unique space, similar to games like The Room. Fortunately for those tired of such mechanic, that’s not the full story. Though it begins as mentioned above, you’re quickly whisked off to different areas throughout the game each offering a fairly decent 3D surrounding. Though it’s worth mentioning that it’s not quite HD quality, but the environments aren’t what you’ll be spending most of your time on.
Puzzle House: Mystery Rising is one of those “out of the box” puzzle games where everything isn’t quite what it seems. Though it begins fairly straight forward with you having to put a mysterious looking spaceship drone back together after it crashes onto the table beside you, later in the game the puzzles become a little more cryptic and very, very frustrating. The good news here is that it’s not frustrating to the point of turning the game off, in fact we managed to complete the entire game in one session, but if you’re easily put off by difficult things, as with all puzzle games, it probably isn’t for you.
Overall the game lasted us around 45 minutes, and I say “us” because my wife and I settled down of an evening to play through the game. It may have taken a little longer for one person to do, but I can imagine it’d take no longer than an hour tops to complete the game. The time taken does leave you wanting more, but had I have paid the game’s asking price of $2.99, I don’t think I’d have been as happy. Pricing aside though, the game is, in short, a very good game.
Puzzle House: Mystery Rising is chock full of puzzles that require both mental thinking and trial and error. Once players piece together the odd-drone-spaceship-thingy, they’re whisked away to a golden gate, likely a metaphor for heaven if the game’s story is to be believed. But before you can enter the gates you’re tasked with solving a huge number of puzzles. The great part about Puzzle House: Mystery Rising is that some of the puzzles are unique, others are familiar which when presented with a new puzzle to solve you give a little air punch because you know exactly what to do.
On the other hand, some of the game’s mechanics seemed a little lazy. In the game you’re presented with at least seven different keys to progress. Sure, you’re required to figure out where each of these keys go, but as time goes on it follows a certain path of: find a key, solve a puzzle, find a lock, open it, solve a puzzle, and repeat. Although this isn’t a huge negative, upon reflection of the game it’s something I certainly noticed.
Other puzzles presented themselves in such a way that they felt almost impossible to solve. It wasn’t until you take a look outside of the box.. namely in the game’s journal, that you’ll discover that the answer has been staring you in the face for some time. While this was an interesting way of keeping players in touch with the overall story line, it sometimes felt a little more like the game was holding your hand making sure that you don’t get too stuck and have a negative thought on the game.
Bad points aside, the game was actually really enjoyable and we can’t wait to see what else PugaPuma come out with, we’re hoping the story continues, though we’re yet to actually solve the biggest puzzle of all, the coded writing found throughout the game. This in itself is interesting enough. Would I also play the sequel? Definitely, though I’d prefer it to be at a more affordable price.
This review of Puzzle House: Mystery Rising is based on the iPad version of the game provided to us by PugaPuma.