Too many design issues leave this physics-based puzzler grounded.
- Realistic physics.
- Unresponsive controls
- Too many bland puzzles
- Forgettable minigames.
Gravity can be a curse in everyday life, where the slightest stumble can lead to a nasty skinned knee, but in the safe confines of a video game, the most famous natural phenomena can seem warm and fuzzy. Professor Heinz Wolff's Gravity gives you a virtual playground where you can mess around with mass and momentum, and the physics on display more or less mirror real life. But the puzzles are too mundane to hold your attention for long. There are only so many different ways a rolling ball can interact with a cube, and the levels rarely force you to concoct a clever solution to the obstacles they place in your path. Though it doesn't fall flat on its face, Gravity moves along with such a stumbling, awkward gait that you'll want to give it a wide berth.
The 100 levels in Gravity play out like a diminutive Domino Rally. You place various cubes and poles around the playing field with the goal of knocking any of the objects into a tiny red button. When you think you have everything perfectly situated, you drop a ball from a chute and see if your calculations were correct. Hit the button successfully to move on; miss, and you have some tweaking to do. It's a simple concept made frustrating by unresponsive controls. Just about every action is executed by tapping the touch screen, but the game has a lot of trouble recognizing your commands. Trying to move a piece that has already been placed often calls up the inventory window instead, while attempting to move a small cube can spontaneously erase it from the playing field. With enough determination, you can place every object in the optimal position, but it can take far too much tedious coaxing.
The levels are an odd assortment of slanted pathways, dangerous holes, and speedy loops. Placing your various cubes and poles in the playing field and seeing how they interact with each other is fun at first. You can stack a few blocks on top of each other, building a precarious tower that can topple with just a slight brush, and it can be interesting to try to create a solid structure using just these parts. When done right, the level design requires clever manipulation to reach the end. For instance, in one of the early levels, you must construct a makeshift seesaw to catapult a tiny marble across the screen. Figuring out the perfect balance can be delightfully satisfying, and seeing the tiny ball shoot perfectly across the map is quite cool. However, the novelty of construction quickly dissipates because there are only a few different object types to play around with.
Furthermore, most levels do not require careful planning to pass. More often than not, you can use a cheap trick to reach the button, destroying any sense of challenge or accomplishment. For example, one level has a hard-to-reach vertical loop that lets out right at the button. Trying to use your tools to shoot the ball up that ramp requires an awful lot of patience and planning. Although utilizing the ramp is difficult, it's satisfying trying to figure out a way to take advantage of it. But you can also just skip clever construction and slap together a cheap shortcut solution. If you build a rickety tower underneath the button, a slight bump from a slow-moving ball will cause it to topple, barely nudging the button but still completing the level. The majority of the levels can be completed in this manner. Carefully laying out the perfect pathway is pointless when a cheap solution will so easily open the way to the next challenge. There is no tangible reward for finishing a stage with flair, so it's easy to get in the habit of doing things with as little thought as possible. There are not enough levels that require the meticulous execution that could make this game consistently engaging and enjoyable.
Aside from the 100 standard levels, there are a few more modes to play around with, but they don't add anything worthwhile to the experience. In Sandbox, you can tinker with the ramps and rolling objects without any restrictions, but this mode quickly gets old. Without a goal, there is nothing to draw you in, and there is plenty of time to play around with physics when trying to pass the main levels. The minigames aren't much better. In one, you have a few cubes and poles and must build the highest tower possible in a limited time. Again, because you already do the same basic thing during the main game, it feels slight and uninteresting here without a more rewarding structure. The other two minigames involve shooting balls out of a cannon--to destroy targets or catch in a basket--but they're merely high-score challenges with little replayability. Although having a few different modes to play around with the physics is interesting for a few minutes, without the basic puzzle solving from the main game, that interest quickly fades.
The physics system in Professor Heinz Wolff's Gravity is well executed, but there aren't enough cool ways to take advantage of it. Though there are a few clever puzzles, the majority of the levels can be passed using cheap, unsatisfying methods. Even when you do find an engaging level, the poor controls and small number of different pieces limit the enjoyment you'll get out of solving it. Gravity may look good on paper, but the game itself falls flat.