Genre: Puzzle | Developer: Eiconic Games Ltd. | Publisher: UTV Ignition Entertainment
Platform: XBLA / PSN | Players: 1 | Rating: 3 (PEGI)
Most of us are already familiar with the periodic table of elements, but it’s not exactly something you expect to see in a video game, is it? But here it is. Every single element, cleverly disguised as a level select screen for the latest title in the cult Mercury puzzle game series, Mercury Hg. You’ve probably forgotten most of them since your highschool years thought.
Time for a refresher.
Thankfully for most of us, you won’t need intimate knowledge of the periodic table to be able to progress through the game. What you have here is a enjoyable modern update of the popular Mercury titles that were released on the PSP a few years back, in downloadable format on both PSN and XBLA at a ridiculously low price.Mercury Hg puts you in control of, to no surprise, an inconspiculously charmless blob of mercury. Your job is to guide your friendly glob of hydrargyrum (inventively, you can use the Sixaxis motion sensor to do so on the PS3) to the finish line of each level.
Simple in theory, but as with any good puzzle game, it’s the meat surrounding the bare bones of the game’s idea that makes or breaks it, and Mercury Hg is a delectable gaming morsel.
Precision is key in Mercury, and the game presents you with a constantly expanding number of different hazards to get in your slippery way, precariously balanced way. Moving platforms, magnents, conveyor belts, and surfaces of many different types of friction regularly get between you and the end goal.
A clock also keeps track of your par time for the level, while your Hg gauge (the atomic symbol for mercury, I just learned) informs of you of much of your mercury blob still remains intact at the end of the level. You can also collect atoms around the level, which also add to your high score, and the collection of these is crucial if you want to get high in the leaderboards.
This is where Mercury’s greatest appeal lies, and the game realises it well. Levels are regularly inventive and consistent in providing new challenges, but they’re short enough that they rarely feel cumbersome or boring, and the high score tables that appears every time you finish will constantly tug at that “one-more-try” urge that’s always so hard to resist.
Every replay tugs at that urge more, as you watch your new highscore slowly rise up the scoreboards. For the truly hardcore, you can download replays of record scores from other players, to see how the master managed to do it, alongside saved ghosts of your own best times to taunt you as you try to shave off those few extras seconds, hold that last piece of mercury intact until the end of the level, or attempt to get every atom in the quickest time possible. It’s addictive stuff.There’s one thing that feels missing from Mercury Hg though, something that was very prevalent in the previous handheld titles.
A sense of challenge.
The PSP games presented players with lots of tough levels and almost hair pulling moments of dexterous expectation. This seems to have almost completely vanished in Mercury Hg, and not even the unlockable bonus levels prove particularly difficult, especially for experience fans of the series such as myself.
The game has a generous 60 levels to play through, which is fairly generous, but their shortness means they the game will probably be over sooner than you might have hoped. Plans for extra levels which the even more obscure elements of the periodic tables, are in the works for the near future (one is already out), which should expand the play-time a little more, especially for the score addicts amongst us.
These are small issues honestly, and at such a low price point Mercury Hg is something of a steal. The game is incredibly fun (if lacking in charm). The leaderboards will be the main draw for a lot of people, and the game is practically paradise for highscore junkies.
If you need a diversion between the lofty dragons of Dark Age and Skyrim and the guns and explosion of Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3 this holiday season, this game is a great investment, for a very small sum of money.
Hey, you’ll probably learn some science in the process too. And as anyone whose ever played Portal already knows, science is always fun.
- 8 / 10
Disclaimer: A copy of this game was provided to The Gaming Vault for review purposes.