Title: Pipe Push Paradise
Platform: PC (reviewed)
Developer: Corey Martin
Publisher: Corey Martin
Release date: Out now
Price: £6/$8
TL;DR: A (very) hard open-world puzzle game that will make your brain hurt.
Family Friendly?: Click here for more information.

I’ve always prided myself on being particularly good at puzzle games and find them fairly relaxing; I wasn’t expecting Pipe Push Paradise to be an exception.

I was wrong.

You arrive on an unnamed island where your uncle has been asleep for months for a reason that isn’t disclosed (although I’m quite fond of the idea that your character is the secret love-child of a family of bears and your uncle is just hibernating). Whatever the reason, the plumbing on the island has gone to pot and it’s your job to fix it. You can interact with various inhabitants of the island, though, other than the first one that tells you the reason you are there, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of point – especially as your character doesn’t talk. At all.

Aside from the one-sided conversations you can have with NPCs, Pipe Push Paradise requires you to move pipes around a limited area in order to move water from point A to point B. As you progress, the puzzles get increasingly difficult. It’s worth mentioning that, when I initially launched the game, I thought my mouse had broken, but it turns out the game doesn’t require the use of a mouse at all; instead, you navigate the menu (and in-game) with the W,A,S,D keys – or you can use the arrow keys, if you prefer.

The game is split up into areas of difficulty, with your path being blocked to subsequent areas until you manage to solve a certain number of puzzles – or a specific puzzle (I was never able to work this out). It’s non-linear in that you can choose the order which you solve the puzzles in the current area, which I definitely found helpful when I got stuck, as it gives you the chance to take a break and try something else before you reach the point of throwing your keyboard against a wall.

What I wasn’t expecting is, after the initial puzzles that serve to ease you gently into the game, the following ones are insanely difficult. I must’ve sat at my PC for the best part of an hour (on and off) trying to solve one specific puzzle that I just could not figure out. When I finally did – the clue is in the name of each individual puzzle, though that doesn’t always help – I felt like I had a whole new respect for the game.

The difficulty comes from not just moving the pipes of varying lengths in confined spaces, but the fact that, once S-shaped and L-shaped pipes are introduced, pushing them in a certain direction will mean they move upright, making the solution a whole lot harder than it may have first appeared. You’ll soon appreciate how difficult the puzzles are as you progress and pressure pads are added, which rotate pipes when stepped on and pits that block your way (and let’s not even mention magnetic pipes which behave in a different way entirely and do their best to make your head explode with the complexity of it all!). One factor that does help is that you can undo your previous moves if you manoeuvre a pipe in such a way that it gets stuck.

If you like a challenge, this might be just the game you’re looking for. Once I managed to get past the first really difficult puzzle, the game was enjoyable but it was in danger of becoming frustrating at points. Some of the more brutal puzzles actually made my brain melt by just looking at them.

At the point of writing this, I haven’t completed all the puzzles – I am ridiculously stuck at about three-quarters of the way through. This annoys me – although perhaps I would’ve been more annoyed if I’d blasted through the game in a couple of hours?

The Good

  • Simple controls
  • Challenging
  • You can move to a different puzzle if you get stuck

The Bad

  • Can become frustrating

Family Focus

Rated: Not yet rated; suitable for everyone – providing they have the patience (and the brain power needed) to get through the puzzles.

Disclaimer: This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.