Game Review: Enigmo

Enigmo is a 3D puzzle-based game for the iPhone developed by Pangea Software that has been met with rave reviews, even earning a “Best iPhone Game” at WWDC 08. The basic premise is to put water droplets in the water container, oil droplets in the oil container, and lava droplets in the lava container using the specific materials given to you. The materials can range from sponges, springs, slides, or even laser guns and it uses basic physics to determine where each droplet will land.

Enigmo is already a popular game on the Mac, but does it translate to the iPhone? Is it worth your $9.99? How does it perform?

Read on for the rest of the review!

Overview

The basic premise of the game is to put 40 droplets of whichever substance (water, oil, lava) into their respective containers. When I first saw it demo’d, I saw the immense potential in this puzzle-based game.

There are various tools you can use to accomplish the mission of filling the droplets in the containers. What’s great is that the water reacts to the item like it would in real life. Specifically, sponges would soak up the water and drip at a constant rate, slides would allow the water to slide down, and well, laser guns (if they were real, they’re more like super soakers) would shoot the water as if the droplets were bullets.

So you get the basic idea, water drips and you navigate those droplets into the container.

 

The Look

Honestly, Enigmo isn’t a graphically intensive game. There aren’t environmental concerns or realistic textures; obviously it won’t be confused with Gears of War. With that said and for the type of game it is, Enigmo still looks great. The 3D animation is similar to its desktop counterpart and there is never any hiccup in processing the graphics. When playing Enigmo, you can feel the iPhone’s slick graphical prowess, the animation just feels ridiculously smooth.

Luckily, the good doesn’t just end there. The physics in Enigmo is what drives it. Each water droplet reacts as expected and the items attempt to mimic reality—placing an item in one spot is entirely different than placing the same item in another. Because this game is physics based, it is crucial that Pangea nail it—good thing they passed the physics test with flying colors.

My only complaint with the look of the game is that it gets a bit dark in certain spots which is forgivable because the look is supposed to mimic the inside of a water pipe. Also, the introduction screen can be improved; it simply does not do the game justice. (Just look at how bland that looks!)

 

Gameplay

Because Enigmo is a puzzle-based game that uses physics as its main control, it comes with few instructions other than to put 40 water droplets into the container. The entire is game is essentially trial and error, you see what works and what doesn’t and then adapt to it.  It would have been nice if the developers included some hints to certain levels. For example, if you beat one level in a certain amount of time you would earn a 'hint' which you could then use when you are stuck. It could clue you in to where to put a particular piece or what have you. 

The basic controls for the items are dragging and dropping wherever you please. Pinching or pulling the screen will result in zooming in or out. You are also able to twist the item at a more precise angle when dragging the aiming circle outwards. Double-tapping an item will result it being sent back to your inventory bar. You can pause or end the game by double-tapping the screen.

The secondary goal to the game (the first being getting the droplets in the container) is to do it as fast as possible. Each level starts with a predetermined point value and it quickly counts down until it hits zero. When it hits zero, it essentially means you have gained no points. This scoring system is a bit odd because at the more difficult stages, it seems as if the counter is going much too fast and you can’t possibly see how it is feasible to earn points in your first attempt. I assume that the points are geared more toward replay value because completing a difficult level is already rewarding enough.

Enigmo allows 5 different saves and you are allowed to save after completing each level. Though it won’t save exactly from where you last left off, it will bring you back to the beginning of the level. Also, because the premise of the game is set, Pangea promises to introduce more level packs for the iPhone. Furthermore, if you’re ambitious, you can create your own level on your Mac and import them into the iPhone. Enigmo can essentially serve as a platform for creating specific level packs, the replay value of this game is immense.

However, this game isn’t PERFECT. I would like to see some improvements in the controls, sometimes I unintentionally move a key piece when I wanted to actually move the screen and other times I wish the precise zoom aiming would lock so my finger wouldn’t have to be locked to the screen the entire time.Other than a few control quirks and the lack of hints, I believe that Enigmo is a great puzzle game and perfectly ported for the iPhone.

 

Final Thoughts

Sure, some would say that when water hits a spring, it wouldn’t jump up at an angle but those who say that are missing the whole premise of the game. It’s supposed to challenge you to see the angles and create a contraption that will allow you to pass the level. It uses a combination of visual skill, patience, and precise control—it is a true test of gaming and puzzle solving ability. The reward when completing a difficult level is very, very satisfying. On the flip side, the frustration that builds when you don’t see what can possibly work is downright maddening.

But no matter how frustrating the levels of Enigmo can get, the possibilities of the platform is endless. With more level packs coming and the ability to design your own, Enigmo looks like its going to be a keeper for iPhone gaming. Go buy it now!

PROS

  • Great Physics and Good Graphics
  • Intuitive Gameplay
  • Great Replay Value
  • Good Music

CONS

  • Sometimes a bit dark
  • Controls can be quirky
  • Maddeningly Frustrating When You Don't Know How To Pass a Level

Final Rating: 4.8/5

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Reader comments

Game Review: Enigmo

10 Comments

Great game. Very addictive. The only issues I have are the control issue you referenced and one other. At the beginning of each stage there is a moment before the water starts where it pans around the puzzle which is supposed to give you an idea of what the task at hand is. I never get it. After the water starts I have to zoom out to get the idea of the potential puzzle solution. I wish that this could be customized so that I know what to do the minute the water starts to flow. Other than that this has been my favorite game on the iPhone so far - even more so than Sudoku which was always my favorite Treo game.

How do you make levels for download on Enigmo. I would like to make about 20 levels but don't know how.

OK, here's my concern about Enigmo. So was Cro-Mag Rally. Cro-Mag Rally was $9.99 until a week ago. I bought it a couple weeks ago, only to find that they dropped the price by $5 a week or so ago, so NOW it's only $4.99 . How do I know they're not going to drop the price of Enigmo by 50% the day after I buy it? I've been thinking about buying it for quite a while and keep almost buying it, but now I definitely don't feel "safe" buying it, because as far as I know, Pangea will drop the price 50% the day after I buy it. I emailed them about the frustration of buying a game only to find that if I had simply waited 6 or so days I could have saved 5 dollars (plus applicable tax), but haven't received any reply of any kind, only adding to the frustration. Idunno. I feel taken advantage of.

woops, the 2nd and 3rd sentences should be swapped with each other! no clue how they got switched around like that.. weird!

to Billy - commenting that the price of the game dropped after he bought it made he feel frustrated - Sorry but that is life - getting it early cost more, waiting to after the "new"-ness wears off is the way to buy. Wait until the price comes to your comfort level. If having the game and enjoying it now is worth $10.00 go for it.. in not then wait - the price will always come down

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