The Brief – Influx
Hopefully you have already purchased the latest in the line of Aussie made games, the ball rolling puzzler Influx by Impromptu Games. Combining Portal-like puzzle solving with third-person exploring, Influx was a member of the indie darlings at PAX Australia last month, and I was lucky enough to get some hands on time with it. Not lucky to be one of the few to play it, per se (in fact, many many people young and old did, which was great to see), but lucky to get a chance to try it mere days before its launch on GOG. Otherwise, it may have skipped right past me, which would have been a real shame.
The concept looks a little like a modern take on Marble Madness. You roll a ball, which has crash landed on a mysterious planet, through various landscapes until you find a puzzle building to complete. To get into the puzzle, though, you have to find the fireflys littered around the area in order to unlock it.
Once you open the puzzles, you’re transported into the clear glass box (of doom), and must bring across another almost equal sized ball towards a goal area (among a few other challenges that I’m sure the game provides as it mixes things up). The Impromptu Games team were happy to point out that the addition of exploration areas between each puzzle were to break things up a little, a chance to relax your mind before the next brain bender. I was glad for that, one particular puzzle during my demo time left my brain feeling rather inadequate!
The controls are as easy as can be. You can push or pull items away from you magnet style in order to complete or shift past certain obstacles or objectives. Within the over world, this means pushing away blocks or attracting the fireflys that float around you until you reach the gate. Inside each puzzle, you must roll over buttons to shift the box on its axis whilst pushing and pulling the larger ball onto jump pads towards the exit. There’s also a dash move you can use in, which comes in handy to get to higher platforms, jump ramps or simply move around the landscape faster.
Influx is such a simple idea, but it can be hard to get that right balance between puzzles that make you think, and gameplay that doesn’t infuriate. Like Portal, it requires a keen eye for detail though here there’s very little in the way of story or context, it’s simply about the puzzle themselves. Thankfully it seems as though the team have got that balance just about right, though it would be wrong of me to judge the game based on the few minutes I played within a packed hall. It looks the goods, both in visuals and in gameplay, and it left me with a sense of curiosity for what the later puzzles could hold in their clean, crisp glass houses, so that’s a good sign.
Influx is available now on GOG.com for the rather affordable price of $9.99, so why not check it out! Be sure to keep an eye out right here on Pixels for my full review coming real soon.