Posted by John on October 27, 2011

Mercury Hg review [PS3/Xbox 360]

Posted October 27, 2011 by Yuliya Geikhman.

Mercury isn’t something you should play with… unless it’s in MERCURY HG. Ignition Entertainment continues the squishy saga with brand new levels and HD visuals, but is is worth playing, or should we let it slide off into obscurity?

Mercury Hg is essentially an upgraded, liquid, home console version of a ball-in-a-maze puzzle. It’s not difficult to understand the object of the game: you guide a blob of mercury past pitfalls and dangers to the maze’s exit. Levels form 60 elements of the periodic table (with the other 60 available as DLC), with even the trophies/achievements bringing out the chemistry with names like Bonusium or Awesomium.

The setup is definitely unique, as are the game mechanics: just like the maze puzzles, you control the background, not the mercury blob. Tilt the stage to make your blob slide around. If you’re playing on the PS3, Sixaxis support lets you play with natural-feeling controls, although the other control schemes feel equally intuitive. A few presets allow for some freedom of choice in how you move, but unfortunately there’s no way to customize the controls further.

Mercury Hg might be a puzzler at its core, but more important here is precision. The puzzles themselves are generally not difficult to figure out: actually getting to the end tends to be the tougher task. As you make your way through the levels, you have more to worry about than simply reaching the end too. Each stage actually has three extra goals: finish under the par time, collect all the Atoms scattered throughout the level, and don’t lose any portion of your mercury blob. If you can do all those things in one go, more power to you, but more likely you’ll be playing each level a number of times, going for a different goal each time.

Liquidity

A distinct lack of walls or barriers in later levels makes it difficult to navigate the environments without losing any parts of your blob to the vast abyss beneath. Moving platforms are especially unsafe, as the blob of mercury doesn’t want to move along with them. You can always take your time and slowly inch your blob forward, but then you can forget about reaching the end within the allotted time. Thankfully, failing to complete a level under par time does not result in a failure, which means non-perfectionists can ignore the clock and play at their own pace.

Your mercury is also not doomed to be forever a shiny but boring blob of silver: colour-changing stations are essential to completing certain levels. The malleable nature of your blob allows for some interesting puzzle choices, like splitting up your blob to collect two different colours and mixing them together to create a new hue.

The stages themselves feature bold, bright visuals. Even the music is colorful, with bands like Sugar Jesus and JILK pumping the game with a good mood and energy. If you grow tired of the tracks that come with the game though, Mercury Hg actively wants you to use your own custom soundtracks. Certain features of stages move to the beat of the music, and changing up the soundtrack can give you a different playing experience.

The flow of the game is only interrupted by a screen with your score, a screen with the top times leaderboard, a screen with the high score leaderboard… and so on. After every single level completed. Continuing to the next level takes 5 button presses and you’ll soon be wishing for a way to disable some of them. It may seem like a trifle but there are 60 levels which you will repeat countless times, and that’s a lot of button pressing.

Retrograde

Despite all the levels and button-mashing, the game is actually surprisingly short. Challenge and Bonus modes that become available as you progress rehash a few of the levels with new goals in mind. With only half the available elements to unlock though, Mercury Hg ends just as you feel you’re getting the hang of it – shame on Ignition for locking half of it out. Still, minor issues aside, the wide variety of goals, challenges, and creativity this game offers make it a fun puzzler to play between your “serious” games.

Mercury Hg is a solid little puzzler that combines puzzle-solving, maze-navigating, and good hand-eye coordination. Unfortunately, it also combines a few minor annoyances which prevent it from being stellar.

Mercury HG, by Eiconic Games and UTV Ignition Entertainment, is out now via download services for PS3 (reviewed) and Xbox 360.

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