Multi-tasking. If stereotypes are anything to go by, it's not a man's best ability. In contrast, many women claim their heads are split into compartments from birth, with one part of the brain able to oversee one complicated activity while the other takes charge of another. If developer FDG is to be believed, however, multi-tasking is the domain of women no longer.
Puzzle World is the fusion of 2D side-scrolling platforming action with the kind of block-pushing puzzle titles that mobile gaming has become accustomed to. It's a harmless merger which, on the surface, is perfectly perfunctory, but in truth never feels natural or smooth – the two forms seemingly fighting for control, with neither fully attaining any domination.
The developer has managed, however, to make a potentially difficult concept quite straightforward. In essence, Puzzle World's objective centres around pushing matching pairs of cubes together to make them disappear, though there are also more traditional platforming elements to deal with, such as creepy crawlies patrolling the game's 50 levels.
Play involves balancing the two elements, with abilities (such as shooting fireballs, and transforming or freezing enemies) providing a multitude of ways for those eager to flex their magical muscles to deal with enemies. The main problem is that these two modes of play remain almost entirely separate throughout, with the block-pushing and the beastie-bashing appearing in a succession rather than in tandem, making each one feel insubstantial alone.
FDG has also had trouble implementing the game's controls, with too much of the action revolving around the phone's directional scroll key – every movement, from jumping to shooting, centres on it, meaning that when Puzzle World goes platform, any quick movement can often result in the game misreading your intentions. All too often the game reverts to scan mode instead of jumping or simply moving left or right.
Though this is undoubtedly more or less of a factor depending on which handset you're using, in the heat of the game it can become trying for your actions to constantly be misread. That said, for those who take things at a slightly slower pace, Puzzle World stands up rather well.
There's nothing especially new or revolutionary here, but the game's puzzle elements do provide challenge enough for the odd diversion. The levels move along nicely, with the block-pushing in particular gradually providing a tougher test. Once the initial rounds are over (along with the game's handy tutorial), Puzzle World begins to question the player.
Eliminating the blocks becomes a matter of clever positioning – backing one into a corner before preparing the other make the puzzle unsolvable, resulting in many a reset. It is, essentially, trial and error. But all the block-pushing in the world can't hide the fact that Puzzle World feels like an unfinished product.
The game's platforming sections rarely graduate beyond timing attacks against adversaries who do little more than scroll back and forth. While it's entirely possible to merge the world's two distinct traits – squashing enemies between two blocks being the most logical (and satisfying) – it's never a requirement.
So what you end up with is a puzzler, with some platforming sections, or vice versa. If Puzzle World was FDG's attempt to successfully unite the two genres to form something special, then it has failed. However, on our side of the fence, the developer has succeeded in create a solid and entertaining filler for that spare half hour. So much for multi-tasking.