Game Design, Game Reviews

Poudini – escaping a maze was never this much fun

Poudiconini is a mobile game that takes maximum advantage of a handheld, touchscreen device to create a fun experience for everyone.

Available on Google PlayThe game is built on the Unity engine, for Android-powered devices, and features a tiny character called Poudini.

Poudini is a tiny character tasked with getting out of a moving maze alive. Considering what he must do to survive, and keeping in mind that he has striking similarities to Pou, the Tamagotchi-styled game protagonist, I wouldn’t be too surprised if Poudini was actually Houdini’s counterpart in the Pou universe.

That being said, let’s talk about what the game has to offer.

The gameplay

Like I said before, Poudini is tasked with getting out of a moving maze alive and reuniting with his lost princess at the other side. The game is a vertical, 2D bird-view platformer, and the maze moves slowly from the bottom up. You must navigate Poudini through the maze before he gets crushed by the wall behind him. However, guiding is not as easy as you would think.

poudini1

Navigating is easy, but also very demanding

Guiding Poudini is done by a finger. Move the finger in any direction and the character follows. However, once you press your finger against the screen of your device, you must not let go until Poudini is safe. This means that the entire level must be finished in one move.

To make things even harder, you are not allowed to touch any of the walls with your character. If you do – game over. Keep in mind that your character is tiny and that the maze is narrow and moving.

The premise of the game is great and shows much potential. But how interesting can it be, guiding a slimy ball through maze after maze?

The learning curve

Surprisingly, it can be very interesting. The developer might be a small indie studio, GoGameIndie, but they’ve invested a lot of thought into this game. First, you are presented with a number of tutorial levels, showing how to move, collect coins, various power-ups and how to stay alive.

Then, it throws you into the fire. The mazes are complex and fast moving. Sometimes you must stay at the top of the screen just to survive, and sometimes you have to wait for the maze to show you where to go next.

You have to collect coins and a clock power-up, which slows down the maze’s movement, and after finishing a bunch of mazes, you have a boss fight to complete the stage.

The replay value

However, where the game really strikes a chord is how it makes you want to play again. Dying in this game means losing a life, and at the start, you only have a handful of lives. There are a couple of ways to earn more coins and all are bloody brilliant.

First, you can collect coins in-game. The virtual currency is spread around the maze, and more often than not, you must go out of your way to collect it. You risk death, but the reward is an extra life, so it’s your choice.

The second way is to wait for your health to regenerate on its own. If you’re out of lives, come back in ten minutes for another one. It is those ten minutes, and the fact that the game doesn’t allow you to play when you want to, that really *really* makes you want to come back.

And the third (and most effective) way is to watch video ads. Watching a video ad gives you 100 coins, and for 200 coins you can buy five lives, so it’s definitely worth investing less than a minute to watch a few ads.

The lack of sharing

Poudini 2

Touch the wall too many times and off you go, watching ads

What strikes me as really odd in this game is the lack of sharing options. You can’t share your score with your friends, there is no leaderboard or Facebook, Twitter integration.

And to be honest, that’s the only criticism I have for this game. It’s lush, with vibrant colours and a great soundtrack. It has a cute main character which has the potential of becoming everyone’s sweetheart. The game’s learning curve is perfect, and its difficulty is just enough not to be too easy, yet tough enough to be challenging.

Its virtual currency is brought to perfection. With multiple ways of collecting, it’s easy to gather a decent amount of coins, and the idea of spending it on more game time is absolutely brilliant.

I just don’t see it going big without people talking about it, and that is why I’d make sharing as easy as everything else in the game.

Adding “post to Facebook” and “post to Twitter” buttons (which could also reward the player with some coins) would probably help the game a lot, as people are usually too lazy to go out of their way to share something from a game.

Other than that, Poudini will probably be one of my favourite mobile games.

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