Fixing a broken leak usually involves a call to a plumber at 4 a.m. But in Aqualux, a new puzzle game from Milkman Games, it’s up to you to guide the flow to the drain. While fun and engaging, you’ve done this home repair before.
The gameplay concept is a familiar one. Move pipes with various joint shapes to guide the flow of liquid from a starting point to an end point. Depending upon color, pipes can either be swapped with an adjacent piece or rotated in place. There are obstacles such as large bricks that cannot be moved, or pipes which cannot be altered from their starting position. And in later levels, you’ll find wormholes that transports the flowing ooze to another part of the board.
Aqualux presents itself very well. The graphics are very bright and colorful. The ooze itself comes in many colors, and spills out with a very satisfying "glug" if you fail a level. The backgrounds change every 15 stages or so, and range from quirky hills to outer space. The music is very toe-tapping. It’s not particularly catchy, but high quality and energetic. It creates a fun atmosphere.
The game adds new challenges very gradually, and often with a few tutorial levels to get you started. Each of the game’s 100 stages has a subtitle, sometimes clevel, although not always (such as "Level 16: Sixteen!"). Each level has a par score and time challenge. Aqualux scores you based upon the number of moves you make and how long you took to make them. Do well enough, and you win a trophy based on your performance. However, if you want to win platinum trophies, you must play on the Hardcore difficulty level. Don’t worry: Aqualux has three difficulty levels, so there’s plenty of opportunity to work up to it.
The Trophy Room allows you to view your progress and play any level previously completed in order to achieve a better score. There are also other unlockable achievements and awards, adding significantly to the replay value.
Speaking of replay value, Aqualux offers a hidden game mode called "Mirror Mode." In it, a small diagram is shown in the upper-left corner as a mirror image. You must shuffle the pieces around the board in front of you to re-create the layout of the diagram but mirrored. It’s a fun extra that is most welcome.
But perhaps Aqulux‘s greatest strength lies in the game’s level creator. This mode allows you to make your own levels using all the elements available to you in the game and save them. Better still, you can upload them to Milkman Games’ servers for other players to try. According to the developer, new levels are added all the time, hypothetically giving Aqualux unlimited replay value. Some of the levels uploaded were so-so, but there were a lot of very clever challenges from certain users. It’s a really nice touch.
With a game that has so much going for it, there’s only one problem: You’ve played this game before. Please do not misunderstand. Aqualux is a very fun title, presenting itself very well with a lot of features. However, the game itself doesn’t really bring anything truly original to the table. The pipe-fitting game has been around for a very long time.
But what Aqualux does do, it does wonderfully. As its ad states, in a sea of HOG (hidden object games), it’s refreshing to play a different kind of game. With lots of levels (and new ones being added all the time), Aqualux may be the diversion you’ve been looking for. Just don’t forget a mop. Just in case.