A few months ago, Nick bought Humble Indie Bundle 3 which included, among other titles, a game called Cogs. I had seen some trailer videos for the game and thought it looked fun and charming, so I was excited to give it a try. The game did not disappoint, and brought a few surprises as well!
Cogs is a puzzle game in the purest sense. It takes the classic sliding tile puzzle we all know and love/hate, but instead of trying to assemble a picture, your goal is to move cogs and other pieces around to complete a mechanical objective, such as making a propeller spin or ringing chimes. The main gameplay mode is aptly called “Inventor Mode”, as you assemble these different little machines.
The game has a really strong visual style, using brass, steel, and wood to evoke a steampunk feel. Even the menus appear to be mechanically constructed, swooping in and out on jointed arms. Every movement is accompanied by a satisfying ratchet sort of sound.
The puzzles themselves are constructed of the same materials, with cogs, pipes, and other elements affixed to sliding wooden tiles. You can actually rotate the puzzles around in 3D space, and this functionality is used for challenges like getting all 6 sides of a cube to interact, and working with both sides of a flat panel.
Inventor mode lets you solve the puzzles at your own pace, but rewards you for doing well. There are gold, silver, and bronze medal benchmarks for both the time and the number of moves it takes you to solve. In Challenge mode, you can try to complete each puzzle in either 30 seconds or 30 moves (or less).
I think a lot of people have a dislike for traditional sliding puzzles. They can be extremely frustrating, especially when you have the whole picture finished except for that one tile way up in the corner. The nice thing about Cogs is that there is no one fixed way to solve. In most of the puzzles, you’re given several of the same piece, and all you have to do is get all the pieces in a row. This lets you move things around freely without worrying too much about “messing up” the parts you already have right. On some of the trickier puzzles, you even get a few extra pieces to help out.
What surprised me about this game was the way you can really get a sense of flow with these sliding puzzles. Sometimes, I found that if I could visualize where I wanted a certain piece to go and then shut my brain off, I could speedily slide the pieces around and get them in the right position without really knowing how I’d done it. It’s almost like your subconscious brain can understand the patterns and methods needed to move things around without you consciously being able to do the same.
Cogs is a fun challenge with a ton of replay value. The puzzles are plentiful (I’m currently stuck on the last handful), solving is satisfying, and the theme is completely charming. It’s available on multiple platforms including PC/Mac, iOS, and Android. Go check it out!