Cogs is a classy little game. It’s an indie steampunk puzzle game, that gives the same sort of pleasure as a well-oiled piece of machinery. From the opening splash screen, with its sounds of whirring brass cogs as the main menu rolls into view, to the mind-bendingly difficult puzzles themselves, Cogs is a real winner.
Cogs has two gameplay modes: Inventor and Challenge. Inventor mode is essentially a series of unlockable puzzles, while Challenge lets you try to either beat the clock, or complete the puzzle in the lowest number of moves. Puzzles in challenge mode can only be played if you have first unlocked them in Inventor mode – but it’s a nice way of keeping track of your progress as you get better at each puzzle.
The gameplay itself is rather straightforward, but don’t let that fool you. This is one tricky game. Remember the tile games from childhood? Well, that’s the basis of Cogs, but instead of sliding around pieces of an image, the tiles have different mechanical parts attached to them. While each puzzle is quite different, the challenge is similar in that you need to move the tiles to a certain configuration in order to get your mini machine to work. You might have to pipe steam from one end of the board to the next, in order to blow up a balloon, or align gears around a three dimensional cube. That’s right – the puzzles are totally three dimensional. Early ones are based on just one plane – a little like those tile games – but the more difficult ones have you working around different planes.
In order to move on to the next puzzle in Inventor mode, you need to achieve a certain number of stars. These are gained upon completion of a puzzle, within a certain number of moves, and within a certain time period. As the puzzles get trickier, so does unlocking the next one.
Not only are the puzzles themselves great, but the look and feel of the game has to be seen to be believed. All of the menus are mechanical, and as you move back and forth between menus, cogs whirr and the menus lift up and out of sight. The sound is fantastic, not only the noise of the mechanical objects themselves, but also the background music, which is reminiscent of a wind-up music box.
While this is pretty much the extent of the game, Cogs gains kudos for its beautiful presentation and tricky puzzles – not to mention its ten dollar (US) price tag – purchased through Steam. It’s a gorgeous curio, well worth the asking price.