MumboJumbo’s and QB9’s ZoomBook: The Temple of the Sun is
either an interactive storybook or a jigsaw puzzle with one heck of a
plot. We’ll leave it up to you to decide when the game launches in
June. Either way, the idea is a neat one, and we were pretty intrigued
when we got to test drive the game a little early.

In a typical
casual game, the player is usually treated to a snippet of dialogue or
story and then dives into a puzzle or action sequence, followed by
another story interlude, then another action sequence, and so on. (That
is, when games decide to bother with a plot at all.) ZoomBook
turns this concept on its ear, with story and gameplay that are
intricately wound around each other to the point that you couldn’t
separate them even if you wanted to.

The premise is based on the
idea that you’re flipping through a kind of journal or scrapbook that
tells the story of two archaeologists, John Miles and Linda Stevens.
The two discover a strange artifact, which leads them to explore the
mysteries of an ancient long-lost South American civilization.

story is told in comic book-style picture panels with text dialogue
underneath. But here’s the twist: each new picture panel is scrambled
into square pieces of varying size, and in order to move on to the next
part of the story, you must fit the pieces back together like a jigsaw

There are sometimes sub-puzzles within a larger puzzle
that show a new event happening within that particular picture panel –
for example, complete the puzzle of a mysterious wrapped package and it
will open to reveal a treasure. And thanks to colourful tropical
environments and some clever graphical transitions like zooming in and
out on parts of the scene, the atmosphere really does feel like being
inside a big interactive picture book.

You’ll also have
opportunities to collect randomly-appearing power-ups in the puzzle
portions of the game that can help you in various ways, such as
temporarily stopping time, granting extra moves, and giving out hints
about what pieces should fit where.

By playing through Story
mode, you’ll unlock a total of four additional modes. Time mode is
basically Story mode with a limit on how long you can take to finish
each level. In Puzzle mode, you have a fixed number of moves with which
to solve each puzzle, so you can take a slower, more considered
approach. In Chaos mode, which is by far the most fiendish, puzzle
pieces move around and split into smaller pieces by themselves. The
final mode on offer, Gauntlet, gives you the opportunity to play one
particular level ad nauseam

With three levels of difficulty, ZoomBook
is suitable for a range of abilities and ages. There’s also the
intriguing hint that more chapters might be added to the adventure at a
later time. Could this be Book 1 of a much larger series? The
ingredients are certainly there. In the meantime, fans of jigsaw
puzzles, games with immersive stories, and bold, bright visuals should
check out ZoomBook: The Temple of the Sun when it becomes available for download next month.