Cogs is an aesthetically pleasing puzzle game that's limited only by it's slight repetitiveness and pricing issues.

User Rating: 8.5 | Cogs IOS

Interesting Puzzle Gameplay: Cogs gets quite a bit of mileage out of using the clas*sic square-slide play, though difficulty seems to be slightly uneven.

Solid Aesthetic Design and Presentation: The musical score is perfect for a puzzle game, ambient and very mechanical sounding, and the visual art has a nice steampunk feel to it. Puzzle Objects tend to vary in interest, however, and are boring at the beginning especially.

Mixed Feeling on Pricing: for the Mobile version, the original game is $0.99, but that only gets you 10 puzzles. Each 10 puzzles thereafter is another $0.99. Can feel like you're being milked, but also is a version of pay to play seen in MMOs recently.

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The 2010 IGF Finalist (Excellence in Design) and Indie Game Challenge Grand Prize Winner for 2010 (Professional) game Cogs is for the most part a very solid puzzle game, with a fresh aesethetic and smart use of a clas*sic puzzle element. While it does have some pricing issues and could use some more interesting puzzle-objects, it's definitely one of the better puzzle games around.

Cogs is comprised of two main gameplay modes, Inventor and Challenge, though both work quite similarly. The main difference between the two is that Challenge limits your time and moves, while Inventor doesn't. The object of each puzzle is to slide flat puzzle pieces with gear or steampipe overlays into position such that the machine-object functions, and to do so with the least moves in the least amount of time. After the first few puzzles, each puzzle typically involves a 2 or 3 dimensional machine-object, composed of a couple flat surfaces. Each flat surface is composed of several squares and one empty space, allowing you to slide the squares around. Since each surface area has squares with mechanical overlays, the challenge is to slide the pieces together in such a way that the machine assemblage is set up propertly, typically by connecting pipes or gears. While this isn't an entirely new concept, as it was originally done with small physical hand-held puzzle-toys, it is certianly well executed here. Upon completing any given puzzle, the machine comes to life and executes it's intended function, like blowing up a balloon or springing a jack-in-the-box. Finally, you're presented with your raw scores and gold-silver-bronze grade for completion, time, and moves.

While each puzzle tends to become more complex as you play, for instance introducing 2-sided puzzle pieces and multi-stage objects, the difficulty tends to vary as you proceed, though that's not unusual for a puzzle game, and certainly doesn't detract from play. The fact that you're essentially building small machines with puzzle pieces means that you do get a nice sense of gratification for completion, since the machine comes to life when you're successful. I will say that rotating the object isn't always as easy as you'd like. Using two fingers, sometimes the object seems to be stuck and won't roll, and other times you'll accidentially move a piece you're not intending to. On the whole, however, it's one of the more unique puzzle experiences out there and is certainly worth a look if you're a fan of other top-tier mobile puzzle games.

On the whole, the aesthetics of Cogs are quite good, with one clear exception. The musical score is perfect for the game, with light ringing bells in a peaceful ambient mood. It invokes equally the machine sensibilities of the game, and yet isn't grating at all, but rather perfectly fits the thoughtful approach of the player. The more immediately noticable visual design is also strong for the most part. Using a sort of steampunk aesthetic, with lots of bronze and gold colorings and arcane-machine objects. However, I will say that I found many of the puzzle-machine-objects to be on the dull side, which is surprising. Though a few really came to life, on the whole, Cogs could've used far more interesting machines, for instance perhaps a hude machine bird or robot or gun. Instead, most of the objects you build end up being far to similar to each other, in look and in function. I think this is perhaps the strongest thing going against Cogs, and what holds it back from achieving the greatness that was it's potential. Ultimately, it's what separates Cogs from a game like Zen Bound.

Also on the downside, there are some pricing issues with the mobile version of the game. The game retails at $0.99, which is surely on the cheaper side of mobile games for this sort of content. However, for that price you only get 10 puzzles to play before you're required to spend another $0.99 for 10 more. While I'm not agains the pay to play content, as it's clearly been successful recently in MMO games, I'm not sure that the first 10 puzzles are worth the price. Many players complain about this on the app store, and I think it's a worthy complaint. Lazy 8 Studios would've done better to price it at $1.99 and give perhaps 30 puzzles to start. As it is, you'll feel like things might just start to be getting interesting before you have to pay again for content, which makes it feel like you're being robbed a tad bit. Certainly, Cogs isn't the only game that uses something along these lines, but it's been better executed elsewhere.

Pricing and repetitiveness aside, Cogs is certainly a good puzzle game. It's gameplay is challenging and yet enjoyable, and the overall aesthetic design is quite good. If you can get past the pricing issues and plan on spending at least $3 or $4 for the game, you'll find it's worth the money, especially if you're looking for something fresh.