Tricone Lab – What We Think:
Creating a puzzle game is no easy task. Finding the right difficulty balance, ensuring players understand new puzzle mechanics, and creating well designed puzzles to keep players entertained are all facets of a good puzzle game. Thankfully, Tricone Lab by Partickhill Games Limited is a micro-organism themed puzzle game that cleverly implements these characteristics into its entertaining puzzle game.
The main goal in Tricone Lab is to create a “tricone” within each level. It’s easily done by dragging three different colored cones to the “tricone catalyst.” Using the mouse cursor, you drag and move various nodes and catalysts around a level in order to create a tricone. It’s a simplistic main objective that is easy to understand. It’s also one of those games that can be understood easier by playing it as opposed to reading about it.
The Hard Cell
Dragging specific “resource nodes” into specific catalysts create specific organisms. Organisms can be moved around and used to your advantage. Depending on the organism you create, you can break or create cell walls, or even transfer colored cones through walls. Proper use of organisms are necessary to not only complete levels, but also counter malicious organisms.
In the game you’ll encounter malicious organisms and environmental obstacles that will get in the way of your goal. Counter organisms, like the “anti-catalyst” which will permanently take colored cones or necessary resource nodes if they are within the same vicinity. Besides segregating walls, the game will also throw other environmental hazards like negatively charged areas, that will break down assembled organisms and make the dragging mechanic impossible.
The game’s challenge comes mainly from its wonderful level design; its levels are cleverly designed and although each one only has one solution, it’s not overtly complicated once you remember the game’s various mechanics. The game likes to ease you into new mechanics and unfamiliar organisms. It makes the transition easier and more user friendly. I appreciate when puzzle games build or modify their core mechanics in an elegant way without feeling the need to over-complicate things. It’s smart game design and makes the game more entertaining.
Eventually, Tricone Labs’ difficulty starts to ramp up: the game will combine various mechanics and level solutions go from a linear four or five step process into a linear ten or eleven step process. Levels will require that you plan multiple moves ahead, and start to feel almost like chess matches. Even though the difficulty ramps up the further along you get, the game finds a comfortable difficulty balance. It’s not too hard or too easy and levels feel fair and possible.
Tricone Lab does a fantastic job of creating an entertaining puzzle game, but I have a couple of issues with exist outside of the gameplay. One gripe I have with the game involves its bland visuals; I see and understand the game’s aesthetic, how it’s meant to look like it’s being viewed under a microscope, but even then it’s far too uninteresting to look at. Levels look relatively the same without much variation. Even organisms and resource nodes have muted colors. It would be nice to see more color, even if implemented in a subtle way.
Cone Of Silence
Another small issue I have with the game is the absence of music. Again, it’s probably to convey looking under a microscope, but I would loved some ambient music to suspend me among the game levels. It’s not a big issue, but once in a while, when I was stuck on a puzzle, I did notice how quiet the game was. It could totally be a conscious game design decision to not have auditory distractions as players solve puzzles, but even soft music wouldn’t be much of a distraction. It’s another small issue but one that I noticed often.
Tricone Lab is a fantastic, well-balanced puzzle game thanks to its great level design and fun mechanics. It’s definitely one of those games that people will classify as easy to learn but difficult to master. Easy to learn because of it’s simplistic mechanics, but difficult to master because of it’s clever level design.
I did have some small gripes with the game, but it didn’t detract from my experience too much. If you’re a puzzle game enthusiast looking for that next game that will eat up your time and give you plenty to mull over, I readily recommend that you play Tricone Lab.
Watch the trailer for Tricone Lab below: