Game: “Mercury HG”
On paper a game based around The Periodic Table Of Elements isn’t the most exciting subject in the world. It sounds like a lot of learning! However the chaps over at Eiconic Games Ltd will challenge anyone to think again! Mercury HG is a puzzle game for the PlayStation Network with a simple aim, getting what could only be best described as a blob of mercury from the start of a maze to the goal.
If this did not seem hard enough, the developers have added in a wealth of collectables, obstacles and puzzles to make sure the game is challenging enough to keep coming back for more. To start with, the game has two modes, Discovery and Challenge. Discovery mode is made up of 60 standard levels. This is then split into element groups. Progression is made by completing the maze as quickly as possible, collecting items and making sure no Mercury is lost over the edge of the level.
Challenge mode removes the need for a timer and replaces it with a series of challenges that must be beaten in order to progress to the next element. Learning to control the blob is the key to progress through the game. Taking a leaf from games such as Marble Madness, the mazes rather than the Mercury itself is manipulated. This means that stopping distances and cornering all have to be thought about quickly or else it is very possible to over shoot edges. Where this is different to Marble Madness is that if the blob only hangs off the edge of a level, only that part will fall off.
This is good as it means less of those annoying restarts but it means to finish each element with 100% accuracy takes time, especially as the game progresses. To move the blob in Mercury HG, there are two control types. The standard analogue movement with the left stick and Sixaxis control. Motion controlling the mazes is, at first tricky but can be mastered in time, but it is down to the player which style feels more natural. Both modes of control feel equally balanced and worked on well.
The choice of control isn’t the only option in Mercury HG. Music that has been uploaded to the PlayStation can be played as an alternative to the in game soundtrack. This function is rare in many full PlayStation games, let alone a Network title. This isn’t saying that the tracks in Mercury HG are awful, far from it! They are psychedelic dance tracks and suit the game very well indeed. However whatever music is playing, be it the in game dance track or a hardcore death metal song, the mercury and backgrounds pulsate to the beat of the bass.
It is small touches like this that give Mercury HG its charm. Combined with an excellent level design and a well designed control system it makes the game a fresh take on the puzzle genre. The idea of basing a game on the Table Of Elements is a great idea, but does limit the game to the number of levels available. Even though there are a few difficult levels that will test everyone, once they are beaten, only the leader boards encourage players to return to the game and try to be the best.
Mercury HG is an addictive and challenging game. Many hours will be lost chasing that perfect score for each level or unlocking absolutely everything the game has to offer. With a great interactive level design, and even downloadable content it just goes to show that great games can be found on the PlayStation Network, not just the AAA titles in the shops!