We recently tried out this unusual puzzle-game-plus-building-design-tool from EA's UK-based Bright Light studio, and we'll tell you this: If you were a fan of the classic Incredible Machine series of PC puzzles games, you might find a lot to like in EA Create. The game offers a humongous variety of decorative treatments (such as wallpaper patterns, skyboxes, individually customizable clouds, and much, much more) with which to build out and design your own little houses (which are, in turn, where the puzzle gameplay takes place).
But the real star of the show is the game's challenges, a term Bright Light prefers over puzzle because that term suggests setups with only a single, right answer. Instead, EA Create will offer open-ended gameplay that will let you take any number of approaches to solving each new puzzle. Create has 14 different levels, each with 10 challenges, so you'll get 140 challenges right from the start, with the option to also play in an open-ended sandbox level to decorate or outfit with challenges as you see fit. You'll also be able to share your levels and challenges online with your friends.
We played through a few of the game's early puzzles and also watched hands-off demonstrations of some of the game's more complicated brain teasers. The majority of Create's challenge seem to require you to, at the most fundamental level, ferry an inanimate object from one location to another, though the starting point and the destination may be separated by one or more pits, walls, a differing Z-axis height, and hazards, such as spiked balls that will pop balloons (some goal objects begin with a balloon tied to them, which causes them to float through the air). Solving each challenge is a matter of digging through your available objects, each of which has different effects, and placing them in the world to cause whichever effect they produce. For instance, turbine fans blow air and can cause balloon-bound items to float in whichever direction you set. You can tweak each object you place in the game by choosing its location and rotating it to your liking--with the PlayStation Move, this means literally rotating your Move controller in the air in front of you until you have your angles set up the way you like.
Create has four different types of puzzle: object challenge, a traditional puzzle mode that gives you only a handful of different objects to place; pick-up party, which requires you to place objects in sequence to solve a challenge; contraption-o-matic, which encourages you to efficiently use as few parts as possible to solve the puzzle (and rewards you for remaining, unused parts); and score-tacular, an open-ended puzzle mode with no restrictions as to how many multiple times you want to use each available object. While there are no set solutions to each challenge, different challenges also contain sparks--glowing objects that you'll want to collect (by setting your goal object to collide with them) because sparks act as the currency that unlocks new objects in the game.
The early challenges we played included using fans to blow balloon-bound items across gaps, using various types of ramps (including a hydraulic boost ramp) to launch a ball to its goal, or using a toy rocket to propel a cart bearing a rocking horse over a ramp across a chasm. While these early challenges were pretty simple, some of the more complicated ones we saw recalled the zany Rube Goldberg-style puzzles of The Incredible Machine, using ringing, connected telephones to trigger a toaster to thump a ball into a boot attached to a pulley to kick against a pinball machine-style bumper to ricochet through the goal.
Create's unusual gameplay and open-ended building and design make it suitable for the whole family, and its piles of puzzles will probably warm the cockles of the hearts of the fans of The Incredible Machine series. The game will be released next week for the PlayStation 3, PC, Xbox 360, and Wii.