When it comes to puzzle games, sometimes embracing simplicity is the best thing you can do. Energy Cycle on the PlayStation 4 seems to have taken this concept to heart and tasks us with a simple premise: make all of the lights a single color. Simple, yes... but is it fun?
In Energy Cycle, you are given a grid of orbs, all of which are one of three colors. You can select any orb you want from there and click it to change its color. But once you do, every connected orb vertically and horizontally changes its color as well!
That color change is where Energy Cycle gets its core game play from. At its heart, this is a logic puzzle. Getting the entire grid to a single color with these rules can definitely be challenging, as you are forced to think through your current and future actions. The game's "campaign mode" consists of 28 levels in total, with each level getting progressively difficult as you go. Early levels are fairly easy (as you would hope!), but later levels can definitely give even seasoned puzzle lovers a run for their money.
While the gameplay here is easy to pick up and play, this game mode is literally all there is to Energy Cycle. The game does have a "Time Attack" mode (which actually puts some pressure on you) as well as "Infinity Mode" which randomly generates levels for you to play through, but the fact remains that Energy Cycle is a one-trick pony that gets very repetitive very fast.
The presentation leaves a lasting impression, and the whole game just feels a bit... trippy. The orbs never move of course, but the background screen looks very much like a "Late 90's Screensaver", with neon colors floating around everywhere and producing dizzying effects.
To go along with the odd visuals is an accompanying odd soundtrack. The music actually changes up over time, so while some tracks focus on percussion and bass (like a nightclub, for example...), other tracks actually have snippets of distorted (again, "trippy") vocals every now and again. There's even some futuristic cyberpunk tunes in here (think Deus Ex's soundtrack) just to round everything out. The wide variety of music surprised me for sure, but it's definitely appreciated given the fact that the game play is so repetitive.
In the end, the whole game really does rely on a single type of puzzle game play, which makes it feel rather cheap - almost like the entire game was programmed by a single person for a college programming project or something (complete with SoundCloud.com links showing up for the music's credit section). Thankfully, the developers agreed. At a $2.99 price point, the dedicated puzzle-lovers out there may want to think about picking this title up, as it is guaranteed to get your brain working at later levels.
While this review is for the PS4 version (Energy Cycle is also out on Steam and Xbox One), I can't help but think this type of simplistic puzzle game is better served on mobile devices. It almost seems like wasted potential, honestly. Weird, right? Regardless, outside of die-hard puzzle lovers though, Energy Cycle is just too repetitive to really recommend to anyone.
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