Apparatus: A Puzzle Game for the Crafty Types
Tested version: 0.9962
Latest version: 1.1
Requires Android: from 1.6
I have a soft spot for anything creative: arts and crafts, DIY, handy-man repairs and the like. I also like puzzles, but I must confess that I grow tired of them fairly quickly—the design is too ho-hum, the gameplay is just plain boring once you’ve played a few rounds, there’s not enough diversity... You get the picture.
Apparatus is a breath of fresh air. It introduces creative elements to a puzzle game... Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
Features & Use
Test device 1: HTC Desire
Android version: 2.2
Test device 2: Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Android version: 3.1
Test round: A trail of thought
So what am I meant to do here? Okay, that blue ball looks like it belongs in the blue basket. I’ll just push that plank of wood over and hey presto! Next level, here I come!
The ball is meant to go up, eh? Okay, I get it, I’m meant to construct some sort of catapult by propping the plank on that wedge so that the wheel can drop down onto it which, in turn, hurtles the ball upwards. Easy peasy. Next level.
I see two planks of wood, but they won’t stick together... oh, I get it, I can nail one plank to the other, d-oh! No biggie, that’s done, movin’ on.
Whoah, what are these cables all about? And what about that staff thingie? Let’s see now: the cable hooks up the two parts, that bit gets hooked up to the right side of the control panel, the plank and the staff go together, press play, the panel controls the staff, the staff rotates the plank which in turn hits the ball that then winds up in the basket. Phew, I admit that was a bit trickier than I thought. Hope you were able to follow everything because that’s just the beginning!
One thing is for sure: Apparatus is not your run-of-the-mill puzzle game. The challenge is to build relatively simple mechanical contraptions that will help the player attain the goal which is good fun because the physics engine is brilliant.
As the game advances the levels become bigger and freer, and the great thing is that there’s always more than one way to reach the goal. Many paths lead to Rome, or, in this case, to the blue box.
The first few levels serve as tutorials and are always succeeded by a level in which you can try out your newly acquired knowledge. There’s also a question mark (located at the top left) which you can click on if and when you need additional clues on how to go about building the contraption or how to attain the goal.
Apparatus is all about approaching things creatively, finding one’s own solutions and having fun trying out different options. In a nutshell: it’s a puzzle that really gives ‘the little grey cells’ a good workout.
Planks and boards of wood have to be turned into bridges, catapults and pathways. Cables have to be hooked up to panels which in turn have to be connected to other objects. Ropes have to be secured in order to help pull and lift stuff... you get the picture.
Some of the challenges are really tricky and I foresee a few dishevelled heads and shadowy eyes. That being said, the cool thing about this game is that you can’t really make any mistakes—it’s all about trying things out and thinking around corners.
Another bonus point is that it’s possible to modify levels after having completed them successfully. Modifications can then be shared with the sandbox community; here you can also find lots of levels and machines created by other users, which you will be able to access once you sign up.
If you’re feeling brave you can also go ahead and start building your own mechanism using the available raw materials in the sandbox. The outcome may very well be a weird flipper automat, a bizarre bouncy contraption made of wood or a monstrous monster truck. Let your imagination run wild!
Basic settings options – graphic effects, controls and settings for the three physics engines – can be undertaken in the main menu.
Three tiny bones of contention:
I was only marginally bothered by these three issues:
- There’s a lot going on the screen and the graphics are pretty nice… so it’s almost a shame to play this game on a smartphone. It’s not a big deal, but I occasionally felt as though my own fingers were tripping me up. Playing on my tablet was loads of fun on the other hand, and I predict that quite a few hours will be devoted to this game in the future
- I’m not a huge fun of the music, but fortunately both the music and sound effects can be switched off (in the main menu). There’s no accounting for taste and you are free to make up your own minds regarding the music.
- The following isn’t a problem for me personally, but some of our international community members might be interested to know that the game exists in English only. That being said, there’s very little text and it doesn’t take long to get how the gameplay works, so it shouldn’t be too much of an issue, even for those whose English is not very good.
Apparatus is a really good game, IMO, though you’re expecting a brief distraction thanks to a classic puzzle gameplay you’ve come to the wrong place. Apparatus is all about creativity, ideas, having fun and trying one’s hand at one’s own handiness.
The graphic elements are cool and the physics engine is top-notch—a wicked gameplay and wonderful optics, what more can you ask for?
I especially enjoy this game when playing on my tablet, but it’s good fun on a smartphone, too.
Screen & Controls
I was pleasantly surprised to see that Apparatus runs well even when testing it on an HTC Desire. The app’s true potential reveals itself when the game is played on a tablet with buff systems power.
Controls are simple: all objects can be moved around using Drag & Drop. Whenever tools are available they appear automatically, either next the object or in the top right corner.
The play button (used to get the ball rolling, literally) could be a tad larger.
Gestures can be used to zoom in and out of each level, so that you can make sure that you never lose sight of anything.
Speed & Stability
Apparatus is the app that keeps on going.
The graphics ran very fluidly throughout our testing phase. There were no lags and no crashes.
There’s an option for changing the physics engine option in the main menu, but the developers don’t advise doing so. I took the risk for the sake of this review, and on both testing devices. Even when the settings are modified so that they’re running on top quality the game is still very stabile, albeit somewhat slower, which is why I would also advise sticking to the middle setting.
The game requires a 600 Mhz processor and 800x480 resolution for optimal performance, though lower resolution will also do.
If ever there’s something naff about the graphics you can simply go to the settings and bring them down a bit.
Apparatus usually costs EUR1,73 / US$2,50 but seeing as it’s our app of the week it’s available for EUR0,89 / US$1,25, which is really a great offer because the game is honestly worth the full price!
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