In a world of first-person shooter clones, expansive online multiplayer experiences and intricate stories, sometimes it is difficult to appreciate the simpler genres of gaming. Puzzle games have been around for as long as video gaming has existed from 4 in 1 Row back in the days of the Magnavox Odyssey 2 to other classics like Tetris or Minesweeper. Unfortunately it is also a genre of gaming that is often ignored by a lot of gamers despite there being a lot to offer. There has been a boost in popularity somewhat with the dawn of smartphone gaming and games like Candy Crush, but we still largely live in a gaming landscape dominated by the likes of Halo and Super Mario.
For those of us who enjoy a good puzzle game, Rush by Two Tribes is a game that will become an immediate favorite. With its pleasing visuals and clever game mechanics, it will draw you in and keep increasing the challenge so that you don’t want to give up until you get that satisfying completion screen. The premise is simple: Get the cubes from their starting point to the their corresponding destination squares without allowing them to collide into one another or fall off the puzzle platform. The blocks all behave the same way, but that doesn’t mean things are easy by any means. The blocks will move in a straight line until they encounter an obstacle or user-provided instruction tile, at which point they will either simply turn right (the blocks will not turn left naturally) or follow the instruction on the tile. Players can alter the direction of the blocks or stop them momentarily to avoid collisions. However, you only have so many instruction tiles available and you can’t move them while the cubes are in motion.
There are a variety of colors of blocks that may be in play. While, as I’ve said, they all behave identically, you have to ensure that all the blocks of the same color get to the proper destination without any mishaps. Any mistakes and you will be forced to stop the blocks and rethink your instruction tile placement. What happens when I do this? is something you’ll be asking yourself many times. The levels come in all shapes and sizes, from basic flat surfaces to levels shaped like animals or household objects. The further you advance in the game, the harder things get until you will be seriously pondering your tile placement for long stretches of time. For someone who solves puzzles for a living in the world of computer programming such as myself, this is a welcome workout for my brain. For others who are not as used to having their mental gears worked so hard, the game does offer hints to help you along, but you don’t really want to give up that easily do you?
I experienced this game on the Wii U. The game is also available for Mac and PC. As far as the Wii U is concerned, you play exclusively on the Wii U touchpad controller and you can make heavy use of the stylus to make things feel super-smooth and simple. The U’s touchpad controller is absolutely perfect for this game. You will want to be up close and personal with your puzzle landscape, zooming in to see better and using the stylus to change your vantage point and to drag-and-drop your tiles onto the platform. While I did not try out the game on my computer, I imagine that with a mouse you can achieve a similar level of control.
The best word that comes to mind to describe the look of things is crisp. Everything just looks so crisp. Although it is a simplistic game world, it evokes a simple beauty that only games with a minimalist vibe like this one can achieve. Basically, all you’re looking at is the suspended puzzle platform, the color cubes and the abstract background that swirls around you as you put your puzzle-solving skills to work, but this is sufficient for a game of this style. The music is subdued, crafted with the thinker in mind. The music aims to not distract you from your thought process while providing some background noise so you don’t go crazy from too much silence. While the music has struck a good balance with the other aspects of the game*, I did ding it a little bit because it can be a bit repetitive. Once you give the puzzle the green light to see if your tile placement is correct, the blocks sound rather enjoyable on their happy little way to their home tiles. The effect is charming.
As with the simpler nature of a game like this, there is not much reason to drone on any more than necessary. Rush is a game for the challenge lover. Plus, it is easy enough to get into that all players of all skill levels can jump in and get a taste of spatial puzzle solving. I would highly recommend to get this for the Wii U if you have one for two reasons: Firstly, the controls on the Wii U are second to none. Secondly, it’s only $1.99 to download! As of this writing the price sits at about $5.00 through Steam which isn’t bad either, but come on – two bucks? You can risk that. Do yourself a favor and get this game as either a new addition to your serious puzzle collection or as a fun introduction into the brain-bending world of great puzzle games. The poor little color cubes will thank you.
*Notice I did not give a rating for storyline. This was intentional.