Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.
Puddle is a simple but inventive puzzler about fluid dynamics. You play as a small pool of liquid which you must navigate through an environment by tilting the screen from side-to-side. Between you and your ultimate goal is a variety of hazards that can trap, evaporate or otherwise disperse your loosely connected cluster of atoms, and if you lose too much of your puddle en-route to your destination, you’ll have to re-start the level.
That’s the boilerplate description. Where Puddle becomes interesting is in the variety of liquids you can control and the environments you need to guide them through. An early example sees you play as a drop of weedkiller which reacts with certain types of plants, while another involves carefully manipulating a blob of nitroglycerine through a scientist’s laboratory so that it doesn’t connect with surfaces too hard and combust.
Each of these slight mechanical shifts are enjoyable in and of themselves, but perhaps the most satisfying aspect of Puddle is how the puzzles are threaded together to create a wordless narrative. For example, one stage sees you navigating some spilled ink across a blueprint. At the end of that level, the camera zooms out to reveal the blueprint is for a rocket ship. The following stage places you in control of the fuel inside the rocket’s engines.
I love games that take a simple idea and then iterate upon it in as many ways as they can, and Puddle is exactly that. The only slight issue is the tilt controls are clearly designed for mobile devices, and are a little finicky on keyboard and mouse. But it’s definitely playable, and I’d thoroughly recommend Puddle as a cheap and cheerful distraction that oozes charm from its many tubes.