| Mechanics

It's the age-old ritual every driver fears. You turn up at the garage with some relatively minor ailment, maybe a gentle tapping sound or a blinking brake light, confident that a half hours work and £30 will see you back on your way.

But of course it's not that simple. After some rueful glances and whistles from an oily-handed, boiler-suited chap, your car suddenly finds itself in a near terminal condition needing a good few day's examination before it's even road-worthy.

Mechanics offers the chance to get your revenge, albeit in a roundabout way. You see, this Lemmings-esque puzzler puts the lives of a portly pit crew in your hands, with only your skill (and goodwill) standing between them and untimely death by drowning, falling or squashing.

Sadly for the sadists out there, you'll need to save at least a handful of them if you're to progress to the next level, although to be honest even the most hard-hearted motorist is likely to forgive all grudges over 'parts and labour' when they clap eyes on the sweet-looking round-headed fellas featured here.

The level designs are pretty sweet too in both presentation and design terms, managing to compress all the action and some fiendish challenges into the one colourful mobile screen that your charges wander witlessly across until blocked, minced or drowned by an obstacle.

In order to help them, you need to activate a series of machines – ranging from pneumatic drills that create bridges to firelighters that trigger bombs, bubble-blowers that help the mechanics float and transportation devices that, erm, transport – at the right time and in the correct order so that the grease-monkeys are protected from harm.

In practice this amounts to a brief cerebral challenge as you suss out the level and prospective pitfalls, followed by some frantic button bashing (each machine is activated by pressing the number on the keypad indicated besides it) as you trigger the various gizmos.

The challenge ramps up steadily from the introductory levels, which require you to steer just a handful of mechanics past a single obstacle, to increasingly exacting peril-packed screens with multiple machines through which every last man must pass. As more machines mean more distinct key presses, the action can almost feel like a rhythm game at times, and indeed it's often essential to get into a rhythm in order to progress.

Whilst the later of the 25-odd levels can frustrate more than challenge (particularly those with multiple mechanics in a small space, when timing of machine-use becomes as much luck as judgement) for the most part the puzzles are so short, ingenious and snappily designed that you'll find yourself having just one more go again and again.

Mechanics isn't perfect. There were still a few annoying bugs in the version we tested, which left us locked once or twice and forced us to restart. We'd have preferred to have started with a few more mechanics too, and then been rewarded for keeping as many alive as possible through later levels.

Neither of these grips are as terminal as a blown gasket though, and with bonus mini-games to stretch longevity, cute visuals, intelligent level design and a general sense of fun, Mechanics will keep you happily sucking your teeth through many a routine service.

(Hope you enjoyed that review, dear reader? £200 to you, mate – Ed).


A well-engineered puzzler that only occasionally drives you crazy