Cogs Will Spin Your Gears

Geek Culture

Cogs game in progressCogs game in progress

I’ve always loved sliding tile puzzles, from the simple number kind to distant relatives such as the Rush Hour Traffic Jam puzzles. There’s just something appealing about putting things back in order with only the one open square to work with. Cogs adds a new dimension to the idea.

Created by Lazy 8 Studios, Cogs was first available for the PC and has just been released for the iPhone and iPod touch. Both versions are fairly similar with some minor tweaks in the iPhone version. Instead of completing pictures or putting numbers in order, your challenge in Cogs is to build machines by sliding gears together or hooking up steam pipes. The steampunk theme is great and carries over to the timer, move counters, and menu screens. It’s an attractive game with all sorts of mechanical contraptions and wonderful animation, and the sound effects are pitch-perfect.

Some of the puzzles are three-dimensional cubes (such as the one pictured) which require you to spin the cube around to solve each face individually. There are also two-sided sliders (you have to solve both sides simultaneously) and cylinders, nontraditional shapes that will really get you thinking. Inventor Mode is the basic game: put together the machine using the least amount of times and number of moves. Challenge Mode allows you to replay the puzzles you’ve solved, either in fewer than ten moves or in less than 30 seconds.

The one disappointment on the iPhone version is that the initial purchase only gets you ten puzzles. There are five “puzzle packs” in all, each available for $.99 (with a bonus 51st puzzle at the end). After you solve the first ten puzzles there’s a button to purchase the next pack in-game. But $4.95 for the whole thing is not a bad deal, and half as much as the (still not so expensive) $9.99 PC download. The PC version, appropriately enough, can be downloaded from Steam.

I really enjoyed the app, particularly since I’m the sort of person who likes to go for all the awards and achievements. Once you’ve gotten all the achievements, though, the replay value goes down. The iPhone version is tied to Crystal, a system for tracking your position on leaderboards and achievements as well as integration with Twitter or Facebook. (I generally don’t use this sort of feature but I suppose kids may like the bragging rights.)

One nice touch for the iPhone version is a tiny spark that shows where you’re touching the screen: depending on the puzzle it helps to have that pinpoint accuracy. Also, I was told there were some minor tweaks for the iPhone version to “smooth out the learning curve and get players into the 3D puzzles faster.”

Fellow contributor Jenny Williams had this to say about the PC version:

You have to do the first puzzle to unlock more puzzles, then do those to unlock more, etc. Once you solve a
puzzle, it gives you an medal for finding a solution, for how much time it took and for how many moves you used. As soon as you click “Play” for a puzzle, the timer starts up so you better be ready!

This game adds a whole new level of complexity to conventional slider puzzles, because you have to design the system while you move things around. You have to have the design in your head, and then figure out how to get the pieces in the right places. Often, though, there are two or more possible pieces which could both work in one place. Definitely a thought provoking game.

Since there aren’t too many puzzles, you could easily solve all of them in a short period of time (my husband and I played about 15 puzzles in an hour or so). So it’s a good game if you like to try to beat your previous scores on things, but once you figure out how to solve a puzzle, the charm may be gone. (Not sure how much the PC version of this game cost.) It’s a great game, though, very different from a lot of what’s out there, so major points for that.

If you like puzzle games, it’s definitely worth a try. You can download a free trial for the PC, or just buy the first puzzle pack for $.99 from the App Store to get a feel for it. Visit the Cogs Game website for more details (and a really cool demo video).

Wired: Very cool steampunk look, nice take on sliding tile puzzles. Just an all-around pleasure to play.

Tired: iPhone version separated into five puzzle packs (still not expensive, but disappointing if you’re not expecting it). Loses some replay value after you’ve gotten all the achievements.

Disclosure: GeekDad received a free download code for each version for review purposes.

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