Yeah, like the guy in the $4,000 suit is going to bottle soda. Come on!
There’s no shortage of Arukone-inspired puzzles on the App Store: Flow Free is the most well-known, but games like Wire Storm, Number Link, and Lost Cubes all require players to connect two like ends via a single, unbroken line. Fizzy Factory follows in the colorful footsteps of these puzzle predecessors, but introduces a bevy of original ideas that makes its experience new, challenging, and refreshingly fun.
As the newly appointed head of Soda Traffic Control, it’s your job to make sure bottling operations run smoothly and all sodas reach their destination. The starting point for any soda is the geyser, which spits out the liquid refreshment from one of its four sides. You need to extend the stream of soda from its starting geyser until it reaches a same-colored bottle: red soda can only fill red bottles, blue soda in blue bottles, and so on. Streams must remain unbroken, so you’ll have to divert around blockages such as crates and other streams. To complete a level, every stream of soda must reach a destination and every bottle must be filled by connecting to a stream.
So far, this is mostly the same experience you’ll find in Flow Free. Where Fizzy Factory differentiates itself is in the use of the mechanic-changing features of merging and mixing, as well as objects known as splitters and color stations. Merging allows you to connect multiple streams of soda together by piping one into another. This helps tie up loose soda streams, such as when you have two yellow geysers but only one yellow bottle. Mixing is the result of merging two differently colored streams together—when combined, they will create a new, secondary color—such as blue and yellow, which creates green, or yellow and red, which creates orange soda.
The uses of these blended colors vary: sometimes you’ll need to mix sodas in order to fill a secondary-colored bottle, while other times you’ll start with a green geyser but need to end up with blue and yellow. This is where splitters come in handy. Splitters are three-sided gateways that—surprise!—split the stream of soda sent into them. If a primary color enters a splitter, two streams of that same color will emerge. However, if a secondary color is split, you will receive one stream of each base color. So green splits into blue and yellow, purple into blue and red, etc. to allow for reverse mixing.
Any stream can also be sent through the color station, which is assigned a specific color and acts like its own mixing cube. A blue stream piped through a red color station will produce a single stream of purple. A white stream will take on whatever color it touches, while a secondary stream will turn brown—once a stream is mixed with more than two colors, it becomes brown.
All of these objects, from geysers and bottles to splitters and color stations, are arranged in unmovable locations on each level, creating a wide variety of puzzle challenges throughout Fizzy Factory. You thought you could just pipe your red stream to the red bottle, but there’s a yellow color station blocking the way. How do you get an orange stream to its orange bottle when a dozen splitters are filling the stage’s 6×6 grid? Where to even begin with four white streams?
Although Fizzy Factory‘s challenges do reach full-on head-scratcher status, the difficulty ramps up gradually and with frequent breaks for shorter, easier puzzles. Every level is assigned a difficulty score, from “two soda” challenges up to twelve. Completing a level will award you its soda value, which is used to unlock new sets of stages—for example, 500 sodas total will unlock the “Fizzy Frenzy” set of 7×7 levels. You won’t even see nine soda and above challenges until you unlock the fourth set of stages, and these still include plenty of easier, lower value levels in case you need a mental break since levels in an unlocked set can be played in any order.
With 240 levels available in the base game, there’s a massive amount of content here for the unbeatable price of free. The ads at the bottom of the screen are unobtrusive, and easily exited full screen promos only appear every six levels. There are three extra level packs available for purchase, for a total of $2.99 or slightly more if bought individually. And if you somehow find yourself running out of things to do, developer HangZone is even running a special “secret code” challenge for expert players. Inputting codes into the game by knocking bottles off the start menu’s conveyor belt will provide passwords to special posts on HangZone’s website, which give trivia clues to the next code that must be entered. While it’s a little obscure, and easily missed if you don’t visit their website, it’s a fun motivation to keep completing levels and unlocking code-breaking bottles.
The amount of effort and enthusiasm that has gone into Fizzy Factory is evident from its puzzle design and added touches, like the secret code challenge and endearing end-level messages, such as “One beverage to rule them all,” “The glove doesn’t fit, but this soda’s legit,” and “Green soda is people!” It’s a shame that this level of detail isn’t as evident in other areas of the game’s presentation. The graphics have a dated, overly simplistic appearance that belies the complex puzzle mechanics. The repetitive soundtrack—featuring the same drumbeat on every level—adds little to the experience. Small annoyances, like the level select screen returning to the first page every time you enter it, or difficulties only being visible from within the levels themselves, are forgivable but add to the list of detractions.
At the end of the day, though, Fizzy Factory is a clever and generous puzzler that excels in gameplay far beyond where it fails in presentation. Open it up anytime you’d like a cool, refreshing Ahhh followed by an inevitable brain freeze.