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Score: 100%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Lazy 8 Studios
Developer: Lazy 8 Studios
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle

Graphics & Sound:

Cogs is an interesting little game with an interesting look and feel. While the core game mechanic has been around since the 1800s and the general interface is not functionally very complex, great care has been put into achieving a certain look and feel. Quite frankly, I would say that the look and feel seems to be "Steampunk." The menus swing in on hinges and unfold to present themselves to the player. Everything in the game looks like it is made of copper or steel or some other metal, from the puzzle pieces with copper pipes coming out of them to the steel gears that interlock and turn when you position the pieces correctly. On the menu screens, the round buttons that you can press to choose certain options look like doorbell buttons made, perhaps, of ivory. This is a unique treatment for a puzzle game, and it works well with a game mechanic with such history as the sliding-puzzle.

As for the the sound side of things, Cogs has beautiful, fanciful music that is reminiscent of a music box, but sounds like one accompanied by an orchestra. Different pieces of this sort are played in the menu and in the levels themselves, unless the puzzle involves making noise. If there is a musical component to the puzzle, such as having to cause a hammer to strike a bell, then there is no background music played until the puzzle is completed. This is nice, as it avoids any confusion caused by interference of the background music. The sound effects are nice, as well, with appropriate gearing sounds accompanying the menu screens when they fold out, or the different toned bells when they are struck or the sounds of the gears as they are turning. In general, the production quality of Cogs is higher than I would have expected from an independent developer - or, for that matter, from a triple "A" title.


Ah, the sliding-puzzle. Invented by Noyes Chapman in 1880, the sliding-puzzle created a puzzle craze at the time, and has been a constant of childhood puzzle-play ever since. You know the type; typically taking the form of a flat, square (often plastic) puzzle with fifteen pieces and one empty space arranged in a 16-space (4x4) grid. The pieces often have the numbers 1 through 15 on them and you have to arrange them in numerical order, or they have pieces of an image, much like a jigsaw puzzle, but you have to move the pieces to the correct places to see the picture correctly. The thing that makes sliding-puzzles so interesting and challenging is that you can't pick up and move pieces; you have to slide the pieces around, utilizing the empty space and, by moving the piece, changing where the empty space is. This, alone, has been challenging and cool enough to entertain generations of children and adults alike since 1880. How could one possibly improve upon such a proven staple of puzzledom?

Introduce complexity. That is just what Rob Jagnow, Ph.D, of Lazy 8 Studios, has done. Cogs takes the concept of sliding-puzzles and adds functionality to the pieces. Essentially, each puzzle is two puzzles in one. The first puzzle is in trying to determine where each piece should be in the first place. The second puzzle is the normal problem of trying to move the pieces into their correct positions. Furthermore, certain pieces change their face's orientation when they move past certain other pieces (gears), which introduces additional complexity, as some puzzles require that multiple actions be synchronized.


The puzzles in Cogs are listed in order of difficulty, and harder puzzles are locked until you've solved the easier puzzles. This helps the learning process, as some of the simpler puzzles will teach you concepts that you will need in later, more difficult puzzles.

Anyone who can't solve a 15-puzzle or similar sliding-puzzle will find Cogs ruthlessly frustrating. For those of us who are entertained by sliding puzzles, the game's pacing isn't bad at all. The first puzzle will be quite reasonable, and the difficulty goes uphill from there. For those who scoff at sliding-puzzles and say they offer no challenge, Cogs introduces a lot of complexity into the puzzles as you get to the more difficult puzzles. There is a cheat available on Lazy 8 Studios' website that will unlock all of the puzzles, so you can jump right in to the insane puzzles, if you feel up to it.

Another way to control the difficulty in Cogs is to change your goal. After you've played and passed a puzzle in the Inventors mode, two new variants of that puzzle becomes available in the Challenge mode: Time and Moves. The entire time, you are trying to solve the puzzle, while using the least possible amount of time and the fewest possible moves. Even on the Inventors mode, you are graded based on these aspects. The Challenge mode has puzzles that are slightly different and a specific goal, either to solve it quickly or with the fewest moves. If you have progressed through several of the puzzles in the Inventors mode and things are starting to get tough, going back and working on the earlier puzzles in Challenge mode can help you sharpen your skills so that you are ready to proceed further in the game.

Game Mechanics:

Cogs is a great game. It features a unique concept, a nicely-crafted user interface and multiple modes that allow players to focus on their weaknesses and build their analytical thinking skills to proceed. On top of this, Lazy 8 Studios offers a level editing documentation, so players can create and share new puzzles to keep the game fresh.

Cogs is clearly not a game for everyone, as some people aren't interested in playing sliding-puzzle games at all, but there is a lot of fun and challenge to be had in Cogs. I highly recommend it to anyone who's looking for a good puzzle game to eat several hours of their time.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

Minimum System Requirements:

Microsoft Windows XP or Vista, 1.5 GHz CPU or better, 512 MB RAM, 120 MB Hard Drive Space, DirectX 9 compatible 64 MB graphics card with hardware transform and lighting (T&L), DirectX compatible sound card, DirectX 9.0c or later

Test System:

Sony VAIO VGC-R820G:
Intel Pentium 4E, 3.2 GHz (Intel Grantsdale i915), 1 GB RAM, AMI BIOS, Realtek HD Audio, Radeon X300 Series (128 MB), 200 GB 7200 RPM, Serial-ATA/150 Maxtor HD, DVD-ROM, Pioneer DVD-RW DVR-108, Sony SDM-HS73 Monitor, Floppy disk drive, Cable Modem, Razer Viper Mouse.

Sony PlayStation 2 Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Sony PlayStation 3 Bomberman ULTRA

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated