Stretchmo

If you haven't bought any of the games in the Pushmo series, do so now. Stretchmo is the perfect place to start: it's a little easier, and even more, introduces itself through a 'free to try' model that basically means you get to play a demo, then buy level packs instead of just going for the full game. Try the demo -- not sure still? Get the first pack! Like it? Pick up the rest? Immediately sold on the concept? Buy them all at once and save some money!

Plus you can't unlock the best and hardest levels unless you own all packs and beat all the levels so know that going in as well.

Like all the other games in the series, it has one main mechanic, and then abstracts the puzzles to really make you think about just how you can do it. Blocks stretch in all directions (unlike the one direction in Pushmo, and the no stretching at all in Crashmo), so by pulling and pushing and sliding them around, you have to climb to the top of the level and pick up the flag or baby. It introduces gizmos like stairs that teleport you or buttons that open up specific colors, and it also throws in enemies.

...enemies. Sigh. Probably the worst idea they've introduced in the series so far. The best part of these games as puzzle games is that you dictate your own rhythms. Nothing's on a time, so you can go as fast or as slow as possible and it's cool, whatever man, take your time, you've got all the time you need! Enemies screws that all up. You're no on someone else's rhythms. You're finding yourself dodging bullets, levels based less on solving them and more on your ability to just not be hit, and it's decidedly less enjoyable. Luckily it's only 50 levels, but I'd be glad to not see them pop up again.

Especially because the game introduces something SUPER awesome in 3D levels. Previous entries had you working flat puzzles, but Stretchmo, since it lets you move in all directions, also has puzzles that aren't flat, but can be crawled all over, front and back, with asymmetries to them that make you have to consider your path a lot more directly, and think about the space in a different way than you did before. It's amazing that each of these games makes you have to really think in a different way like this, but they manage to, and I really love the way Stretchmo feels.

In fact the introduction of being able to rotate the camera is where I had my "Oh this game's gonna be awesome!" moment.

And Stretchmo IS awesome, except for the bits with the enemies. Ah, those enemies, set up so unfortunately to make those levels tedious... The controls and the feeling of actually playing Stretchmo are fantastic. And when you pull out a puzzle and you realize that the solution is no good so you have to go back and reset it yourself, it's an admission of defeat. You know it was the wrong thing to do, you fix it, start again, but it's your choice. When you're hit by an enemy, even by accident, sometimes you just have to completely restart no matter what. And it frankly sucks.

But that's only 50 levels! But if you want to unlock ALL of the levels, well, you need to force your way through, it's just... all the rest of the levels are much, much better. If you're not worried about that, though, then get the other levels, use the Studio to get more (though the community seems... less active than before), and have a great time.

You have nothing to lose if you want to try Stretchmo, so go ahead and download it! Odds are you'll fall in love with it like I have with all of these games, and this latest entry is still a ton of fun to get into and tear apart. Play it, buy some levels, and achieve puzzle platforming bliss on the go.