A new puzzler for Playstation VR, Squishies by developer Brainseed Factory combines a cute aesthetic with familiar gameplay elements in an original package. Quite a change of pace for the developer, previously responsible for the wordplay-based platformer Typoman. Here’s our look at Squishies.
Although strictly speaking Squishies is a puzzle title, it’s also partly skill-based, mainly due to some challenging controls. In the game, you’re tasked with bringing your cute little Squishies home – represented by a sort of portal in each level. It’s a mechanic that’s decades old in puzzle games, and Squishies combines it with a hint of Marble Madness as your little guys roll around the level and try to stay out of harm’s way with your help.
You do this with a pair of Move controllers, which turn into fish-like devices once you see them through your headset. You can blow out air or suck it in, thus manipulating the route your Squishies take as well as various dangers and objects inside the levels. It’s a simple enough concept, though the complexity does increase as the levels progress.
You can create your own levels as well, as Brainseed Factory has included a fully featured level editor in the game that also allows you to share (and download) creations online. If the community takes to it, that should definitely improve the lasting appeal of the game. You don’t need to dabble in the editor though, as the game ships with no less than 100 levels already, making for a good amount of puzzle content.
The move controls work well as long as you’re indirectly controlling your Squishies and/or manipulating objects and dangers in the world – levers, platforms, etc. Things get quite a bit more challenging (and sometimes frustrating when you mix in the need to also control the camera). Pivoting the scene around to get a better view, zooming in and out – it’s quite a change from the otherwise relatively relaxing interactions with your Squishies. Things also turned a little finicky at times, but perhaps this was a combination of level design and tracking issues.
Audiovisually, Squishies took me back to some of the earlier PSVR titles like Waddle Home. While the pre-release artwork looked very cute and cartoon-like, the in-game experience is relatively bland and lacking in detail, with environments that look like a bit too “Minecrafty” for my liking – tons of square corners. I’m sure it has to do with the fact that you also get a level editor and this keeps things manageable, but after seeing gorgeous PSVR titles like Moss this year I couldn’t help thinking that Squishies didn’t live up to its potential visually.
Luckily, Squishies works well as a puzzle game, and should definitely appeal to you if you enjoy titles like Waddle Home or Light Tracer. Titles that may not have the mainstream appeal of some other VR titles, but make use of VR to craft original new puzzle concepts. There are too many rough edges for a universal recommendation, but you’ll enjoy this if you’ve taken a liking to the VR puzzle genre.