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Vizati

Score: 70%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Gamer's Gate
Developer: Different Pixel
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle

Graphics & Sound:

Puzzle games are a strange beast to review. Unless they are truly remarkable (Peggle) or dangerously addictive (Puzzle Quest), they simply blend into the cluttered landscape of gaming. They are rarely ever bad, it just feels as though they are best seen as time-wasters as opposed to lengthy gaming experiences. Unfortunately for Vizati, a colored block-based puzzle game, there just aren't enough clever puzzles or compelling gameplay mechanics to make this experieince more than a lunch-break distraction.

Once again, to clarify, Vizati is not BAD. It is merely functionally adequate. There is an interesting visual style that makes it worth seeing and the gameplay is different enough to check out, but nothing really sticks. The artistic rendition of the puzzle landscape is told through the use of watercolors to good effect. The backgrounds of each new environment have a neat touch that appear as though the water colors were physically painted onto a thick paper stock because you can see how the colors "bleed" from one to another. It's definitely a unique look; a look which strangely works well with the atmosphere.

Surprisingly, Vizati is quite moody. The music accompaniment is rather somber and quietly underscores the thought process of your puzzle-solving skills. As you match the colored blocks, the cheery sound effects really lighten up your mood and kind of make you keep going on to the next puzzle. The use of music is good, but the variety is sparse.


Gameplay:

Ok, stop me if you have heard this one. Vizait is a match-three block-based puzzle game. Well... not exactly match-three (you can match more than that), but you get the idea. The twist is that in order to move the blocks around to match them, you must rotate the game board and use the force of gravity to do the color matching for you. You can rotate right and left, and even invert the board too. You can also give the board a little "nudge" to move everything over just one space if you need to be more precise in your movements.

So the premise is a little uninspired, but the execution is sound. The different ways that Vizati uses the restraints of the board is often tricky, but never unforgiving. There are two different game modes: Story Mode and Arcade Mode. The "story" is...well... pointless. It starts off with your game board in the middle of a forest and a girl with her dog discovers the board. While you rotate the board itself, it surprises the girl who then runs off to find her father and show him the curious discovery. Soon the father calls the police, who call a scientist, who retrieves fancy science equipment, and that's it. No one understands the true nature of the block, nor does anything of excitement happen at the end. The group of people literally just watch you and comment on your play style. It's just a rather frivolous excuse for the artist to animate people and things while the game exists in the background.

The only gameplay difference between Story Mode and Arcade Mode is that in Story Mode, you are restricted in the number of movements you can make to clear the board. In Arcade Mode, it is an endless series of challenges for a high score. Sometimes you have to clear the board, other times you have to match a specific color a certain number of times, and other times your score only increases from the matching of ONE color. Arcade Mode really is the main course in Vizati, as it has the most accessible barrier to entry: just play until stuff happens, and then keep playing.


Difficulty:

Vizati isn't the type of game that prides itself on beating your puzzle-solving cortex senseless. It is more content to patiently wait for you to understand the folly of your ways. The biggest mental hurdle to overcome is that it is impossible to move just a single block. Everything moves together and that's part of the puzzle. The sooner that becomes second nature, the easier the rest of the puzzles become. If it makes you feel better, there are already numerous videos online that show the solutions to some of the more complicated puzzles.

Game Mechanics:

Vizati is simple. The board contains the blocks and the arrow keys rotate it to match the falling blocks. If you want to "nudge" the board, press "N" or "M" to move left or right. You can use the mouse as well to move the cursor to the direction you want to rotate the box, but the keyboard is the most responsive and simplest control input. The only complaint I had was that I wished it moved faster. I often saw the solution ahead of me, but I just wanted to hurry up and get there, but the animation of the rotating box had to play out first before it would recognize my next move. It's nothing major, but it is a small annoyance.

At the end of the day, Vizati falls victim to the state of mediocrity. It isn't anything to run home about, nor is it a complete waste of time. It is good, solid puzzle-solving wrapped in an online Flash game aesthetic. If you find yourself looking for a nice distraction for a few hours, then you could do a lot worse than Vizati, but by that same logic, you could also do a lot better.


-HanChi, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Hanchey

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows XP (Service Pack 2 or higher) / Vista / 7, Intel Pentium 4 1.0 GHZ processor or equivalent, 512 MB Memory, DirectX 9.0c-compatible 128 MB video card with Shader Model 1.1, XNA Redistributable 3.1, 256 MB Free, DirectX 9.0c compatible Sound Card.
 

Test System:



Windows Vista, 3.16 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4 GB RAM, DVD Drive, 500 GB Hard Drive, NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GT

Related Links:



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