Mercury Hg Review
Sony PlayStation 3
Mercury Hg is the new puzzle game developed by UTV Ignition games, joining the ranks of their other works such as the critically well received Mercury Meltdown and Mercury Meltdown Remix. Before we continue with the review I have to admit that science was never my strongest subject at school... in fact I don’t think I ever did pass GCSE science but I dashed my fears aside to have a go at this.
In total the game packs a substantial 120 levels and as with the previous releases your mission is to guide the titular blob of mercury to its chequered tile destination. Keeping with the theme of chemistry each level is named after an element on the periodic table. On the face of it the game's premise seems simple; you have to guide your circle of mercury to your goal through a maze like environment full of pit falls and other level-based criteria. The simplicity of this concept is deceptive as while some levels are straightforward others are gut wrenchingly frustrating.
The start menu gives you the choice to pick from a discovery mode, challenge mode, bonus levels and tutorial levels. The tutorial level section consists of 8 stages, each one focusing on a key element that you will have to face and learn in order to pass the challenge. For example in the “colourium co” section you are taught about colour filters and how changing the colour of the mercury will help you accomplish your task. If you are a novice of puzzle games, you should check this section out. There are 31 levels in the challenge mode and completing each stage unlocks the next level and so forth. In most levels, you will have to meet certain criteria in order to unlock stages in the challenge mode and bonus levels.
In terms of the motion and control of the game it's best described as silky smooth; you move the board with the L3 control which tilts and guides your mercury blob in certain directions. The R3 stick lets you control how you view the game board so that you can get up close and personal with the mercury or you can zoom out and have a full aerial view of your surroundings. There will be similarities drawn between Mercury Hg and the likes of others such as Kororinpa (which is geared towards a younger player), but rather than being a negative comment on originality it’s more an endorsement of the quality of this puzzler.
On to the visual stuff; to the left of the game screen there are two vertical bars, one counting the time and another that tells you how much mercury you have left on the board. To the right is a vertical bar that gives you a “pitch reading”, above is a “roll bar” that gives you a speed reading of your mercury and at the bottom, you can see your score and the title of the music tracks that are playing as you go along. After finishing each level there is a scene playback which basically shows you the moves you made during your recent playthrough. While not normally a fan of graphics in puzzle games Mercury Hg began to appeal to me quite a bit during my playthroughs; UTV Ignition Games have done very well when it comes to the graphical design of the game with everything feeling very consistent. Movements flow with no sudden sharp edge glitches and the colours and shapes on the board are crisp, well shaped and pop out on each level. When the blob of mercury isn’t in transit it bops to the tempo of each music track played, a fantastic little touch. The music also suited the style of the game, so making it a treat both for your eyes and ears.
One potential fault with the game is the fact that some levels can be a bit too difficult and frustrating. The 30 second bonus time limit seems almost unachievable on some levels (unless you are superhuman at puzzlers, of course). Indeed, it looked impossible on certain levels to get to the goal with all your mercury intact and there were many a time when my heart stopped after the blob plummeted into the dark depths.
I would strongly advise you not to drink too much coffee or caffeinated drinks before playing this game because you'll need a very steady hand and nerves of steel. This is not the type of game that you can just rush through... yes there is a 30 second bonus time limit but the controls are so sensitive that nine times out of ten your mercury will hurtle off the edge of the board whatever you think you told it to do - don’t say I didn’t warn you!
P.S - This game can be very addictive so allow yourself plenty of time in case you get caught in the zone...