Review Date: Jan 27, 2010
Developer: Anthony Mattox
Price: Free (Publisher's Site)
Like it's visual design, the premise of Pulsus is deceptively simple: you have to guide enough particles into a particular goal in order to complete the stage. But things get much more complicated than that, as Pulsus quickly becomes an addictive yet relaxing puzzle experience that's near impossible to put down.
Each stage starts out with a goal, or multiple goals, and an emitter that shoots out a stream of particles. Using different "forces" -- objects that can interact with the particles -- you're tasked with guiding enough particles into each goal before you run out.
To start off with the only forces you are given are black ones, which repel particles. They can be used to create a funnel of sorts, directing a steady stream of particles towards your goal. Things eventually get more complicated than that though, as multiple goals are introduced, as well as color specific forces and goals.
The colored forces only attract their particular color, while repelling all others, and the colored goals will only accept particles of their own color. It may sound a bit complicated but it soon becomes second nature. The game also does a great job of gradually introducing the new gameplay elements so you never feel overwhelmed.
The only real complaint about the game is its uneven difficulty. The levels steadily progress in challenge, but occasionally you'll come across a really difficult stage right after an incredibly simple one, or vice versa, which can be frustrating. It's not a major issue but it does throw off the pacing of the game somewhat.
Pulsus is also, despite its addictive nature, quite the soothing experience. Unlike most puzzle games, which rely on quick reflexes for success, Pulsus is more focused on strategy. You generally have lots of time to actually get your forces positioned, but the trick is figuring out how to position them in the first place.
This relaxing tone is echoed by the game's atmosphere. The graphics are incredibly simple, yet stylish and distinct at the same time. Meanwhile the subdued, flowing soundtrack fits the game perfectly.
The Bottom Line
Pulsus is really a near perfect example of a puzzle game. It features a brand-new, creative, and addictive gameplay concept and wraps it up in terrific production values. Aside from a few issues with difficulty balancing, it's a game that is challenging without being overly frustrating and an experience that no puzzle game fan should miss.