Whilst I’m not always good at them, I love me a puzzler and Fractal: Make Blooms Not War is certainly puzzling. Cipher Prime continue their mix of music and puzzle elements from their previous fantastic efforts Auditorium and Pulse by turning to blocks like a more traditional puzzle game but that’s where a lot of similarities end.
Fractal is all about pushing and forming. Where you click on the board basically pushes all the connecting blocks to where you push one space outwards. Those of the edge of the map fall off and hopefully after some well placed pushes you’ll get yourself a “bloom” which is a circle of 6 same coloured hexes surrounding one hex of the same colour. This bloom will then explode and push your hexes around a bit more and others will be replaced. The key is to try to time it all perfectly so you can gain some fantastic combos. You see whilst there’s no time limit, there’s a push limit so every push counts and even on the opening levels things are extremely tight as you try desperately to work out what’s going to happen. It may be just me but there does seem to be a random element that can really tip the scales either way.
What is already a hard method to explain (it makes more sense when put in practice) is made harder when different colours are introduced early on. Suddenly you’ve got to get the right coloured bloom, with the right coloured push to combo to a different colour afterwards. It gets very technical and sometimes very frustrating – but it will keep you coming back.
The musical side of the game has dimmed down compared to Cipher’s previous efforts where the music slowly gets more dramatic for each push until it starts to wind down to a slow halt. It all adds to the feel of the game which is clean, clinical and classy without losing character.
~Interesting pushing and detonation game mechanics
~Lengthy simple player campaign
~Utterly hard as nails
~Sometimes it feels a bit random, although this could be me not grasping all the mechanics in play
~No Steam Achievements
It has a steep learning curve but then the game is aimed at the puzzle hardcore crowd. It’s far more complex than a usual block buster game and you need to invest time and patience to get the most out of it. If it clicks though, you could be lost for quite some time. A fantastic challenge for puzzle enthusiasts!