Puzzle games bring out all kinds of emotions when played; one second you’re happy, the next you’re shouting at your monitor, threatening to punch its pixels out. A successful puzzle game needs to bring a multitude of gameplay features to the table. It needs to ease you in, build up your confidence, and let you familiarise yourself with the way it works. It needs to challenge you, give you a sense of reward, but most of all it needs to be painfully addictive, and boy, this game has all of this and plenty more.
Upon start up the game greets you with a simple, cheerful user interface which is easy to navigate. The game has a story behind it that involves Sommerville himself along with the games main character, Woop. Woop’s a happy little guy with a passion for video games; he loves them! He wants Chuck to create levels for him to complete and he’s more than happy to oblige.
The game starts you off with simple puzzle mechanics; you’re at point A, get to point B. It then slowly introduces you to more - get the coloured key to open the coloured door, move this block, press that button, get past these enemies. It does all this really well and in later levels gathers all these mechanics together and uses them to create levels that make you think twice before attempting them. The game then becomes even more interesting as there are different types of enemies and multiple uses for some items; for example, one level may require you to push ice blocks around to make a pathway, while in another, that exact same item may be used to freeze over lava.
So you’re halfway through a level and little lovable Woop’s been taken out by Snappy, one of the many enemies you will encounter as you progress through the puzzles. Well not to worry! Woop has a unique ability to alter space and time; so with a few presses of backspace you can attempt that tricky part again. This is an amazing feature. It takes away the annoyance of a gameover screen. By taking away that minor delay in gameplay, it makes the whole process smoother and more enjoyable. Each level records the time it takes for you to complete it and as a result gives you a three medal score. You can go back and replay levels at any time. All the levels are in categories, easy to difficult, and the interface for selecting these levels resembles games such as Angry Birds, where you can see all the levels; the ones you’ve completed and the ones yet to be played.
The first thing that grabbed me when I loaded up Chuck’s Challenge were the incredible visuals. It’s a bright and colourful world, with extremely detailed textures that make the game memorable and fun to play. The animations are seamless and everything just seems to flow perfectly. The controls allow you to view the level at different viewpoints. This includes zooming in, out and rotating the camera clockwise and anti-clockwise. This makes even better use of the amazing visuals on offer while also being a very helpful in-game tool for the player. The levels also feature a kind of fog or field of view. This is a nice additional feature; however I personally sometimes found it distracting. This is only a minor personal opinion and it doesn’t take anything away from the game overall.
Unique art styles in games are becoming more and more common now, thanks to a range of indie titles hitting the scene. The cartoon effect that Chuck’s Challenge has makes it cheerful and easy on the eye. This especially makes it appeal to all audiences and ties in well with the smooth interface. The backing music that accompanies the gameplay is of a high quality and adds to the overall experience. There is an option to turn the music off, however, but I don’t advise this. The music gives Woop and the levels their personality, it makes them fun and somewhat lovable. It’s an upbeat and fun tune that you will find yourself humming along to in no time at all. There could maybe have been a wider variety of melodies implemented, although this is not entirely necessary, and the music that made it into the game is suitable enough to serve its purpose.
Now, for all you creative people out there, Niffler have implemented an option to create your own levels. These, once created, can be shared with the whole online community, who then can either like or dislike the level, which gives it an overall rating. You can search for levels in one of four ways: top levels, latest, local or by typing in the level ID. I was blown away by the amount of user created levels available. They range from incredibly simple to extremely tough, using every asset the game has in its extensive library. The level creator itself is simple to use; you can enlarge the map, place down items and enemies with a single click, then take them away with a swipe of the eraser. You can have hours of fun with this alone, which only increases the games replay value.
Overall, Chuck’s Challenge 3D is a marvellous game to behold. From the aesthetics to its undeniably addictive gameplay, Chuck’s Challenge will have you completing puzzles with Woop for hours on end. Yes, you will laugh, you will cry, you will most certainly want to break your monitor in two, but you will come back time and again for just one more go, one more puzzle, and try to obtain that one missing medal. The sheer number of levels to play is staggering, add in a growing community of level creators and you have a puzzle game that’s going to be captivating audiences for some time to come. The game is available on February the 28th via Steam.
A note from Thomas Ellis: The review key of Chuck’s Challenge 3D was very generously given to us from Tom Ohle of Evolve PR. Tom just started his own publishing label called Nkidu Games Inc. and Chuck’s Challenge 3D is the first game to be published under the new label. Here’s to many more Tom, we’ll support you all the way.