Mercury Hg Review
Those who never embraced Sony’s portable console will have likely missed out on the superb puzzler ‘Archer Maclean’s Mercury’ and its follow-up ‘Mercury Meltdown’. Although the latter saw a release on the PlayStation 2, and a further sequel appeared on the Wii, the series has finally made the leap to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 as a downloadable title.
Like all great puzzle games the premise is very simple, in this case by tasking players to guide a blob of liquid mercury through tiled levels to the finish point. The challenge however comes in the form of obstacles such as magnets, sticky or slippery tiles, colour sensitive switches and teleporters. These are drip fed to players early on and help keep players on their toes at least for the initial levels. After all features are introduced however, the game does become somewhat repetitive and it’s rare you’ll find yourself surprised by what the next area holds.
The mercury blob isn’t itself manoeuvred around in a tradition sense but rather the environment as a whole is tilted to guide it. This is either done via the analog stick or, if you feel up to the challenge, the SixAxis accelerometer built into your controller. Be warned though as the latter often requires keen reflexes to stop your little globule from dripping parts of itself over the side. Fortunately though the level is only failed once all of your liquid is spilled into the abyss, so losing a few drops isn’t a total game over.
Each of the stages in the main mode gives players four challenges to tackle although simply getting to the finish zone allows you to ‘complete’ it. The other tasks are more gruelling and require 100% of the mercury to make it to the end, all atoms within the level to be picked up as well as a classic time limit to beat. Each of these help progress the game and unlock new areas of the periodic table style main screen. Later levels certainly test your skills to achieve all these goals as well as just making it to the end.
Further longevity can be gleaned from the bonus levels and challenge levels which offer additional trials for players to test themselves. Bonus levels are only completed by collecting all additional mercury to bolster the initial globule or by working through a series of areas with varying challenges in the aptly named ‘challenge levels’. Sadly there’s no multiplayer to speak of so your only real competition will be against yourself or the world with the handy ghost feature and the global leaderboards.
For a title available at a budget price, the visuals certainly don’t feel cheap. The mercury blob moves convincingly and has a pleasing metallic sheen to boot as it glides around the minimalistic and laboratory-esque environments. The music is also very fitting and reacts with the background and floor as the tunes pump away. There’s even an option to use your own soundtrack which is always a welcome addition.
The initial levels provide the most entertainment as they introduce the various obstacles and gameplay nuances. This does unfortunately mean that the game shows all its tricks early on so it does end up relying on online leaderboards and the completist nature of gamers for longevity. For a mere £3.99 though, Mercury Hg is an inexpensive, surprisingly attractive and enjoyable way to get your puzzler fix.