Pros: Challenging puzzles.
Cons: Finicky object placement, poor menu navigation.
There is no real reason not to stop playing the puzzle game Create at any time I like. There’s no gripping story pushing me forward. There are no big boss battles. Once I solve a puzzle, there is nothing compelling me to start a new one. And yet, hour after hour I find myself moving from one puzzle to the next. As day slips into night I think, “I’ll just solve this one and then stop,” followed by, “I might as well just see what the next one is like.” The game is as addictive as potato chips.
You don’t actually create anything in Create. You can decorate the environments the puzzles are set in, changing the backdrop, adding weather effects and dropping kittens and alligators onto buildings where they will calmly wander about, but the title makes me wonder if somewhere at the beginning the designers had a different game in mind that emphasized creativity, or if they were just deluding themselves with the title.
The game could more fairly be titled Solve, since that is the bulk of what players do in it. Create is a puzzle game in the tradition of the The Incredible Machine series in which you had to get some object from point A to point B by creating a Rube Goldberg-type device. In Create, if you are given the goal of moving a gas can to a vehicle (puzzle premises are weak but sufficient) you might fire a rocket that will push it forward, install a ramp that will cause it to rise over a gap, place a magnet that will shift its trajectory to get it over an obstacle and install a mine that will explode, bouncing it towards the car.
When you complete a puzzle, you are scored according to how well you did, gaining you both points to unlock further puzzles and objects to decorate the backdrops. I was generally able to achieve maximum scores and unlock a bunch of objects, and found the little notifications of all the objects I’d unlocked quite tedious. Couldn’t I just have them all in a list? It’s not like I had any interest in decorating anyway.
There are a few varieties of puzzles. In one you have a limited number of objects, such as a spring-loaded ramp and a balloon, which you can use multiple times to transport an object from one place to another, helped out by objects placed in the environment by the designers. The goal is to use the least possible number of objects.
Another mode involves building primitive vehicles with a mix of wheels, beams and hinges. Often you can only build in specified areas to create a vehicle that can make its way through a number of obstacles. You might even build a vehicle on top of another vehicle.
In “scoretacular” mode you have dozens of objects you can, and should, use as much as you like. The goal is to transport an object in the most elaborate, circuitous way possible. Each object used increases your score, as does hitting score multipliers.
Puzzles are quite ingenious, but objects can be finicky. If a car driving over a ramp just misses the other side, scootching the ramp forward makes it fall into the gap. At times I had to move an object many times before finding the sweet spot.
Sometimes changing one object ruins the rest of your solution. Sometimes this makes perfect sense, as when adding a magnet slows down a vehicle, causing it to hit a ramp with less speed, but sometimes I would add an object near my goal and an object near the start point would alter its behavior, as though every object in the game had its own mass with its own gravity. Obviously a toaster should not affect something 100 feet away, but at times in Create that is what seemed to happen.
Making minute changes in the position of interrelated objects might sound pretty tedious, and at times, especially in scoretacular puzzles, the amount of trial and error necessary to make the car bounce off the mine so that it will hit the flying saucer is immense, but I like the game in much the way that I like my former occupation, computer programming. I always enjoyed changing code and seeing what would happen, and Create offers a similar pleasure. If you like this game, you might want to learn programming.
The game would, in fact, be better if it added some programming tools. One of the main things the Create needs is a way to skip to a certain point or stop in the middle. In the game, you place your objects, set things in motion then watch the action unfold. At times you will have the puzzle working beautifully for the first half only to break down in the second half, forcing you to continually replay the first half in order to see how your tweaks affect the latter part. At the least, there should be a fast forward that allows you to see the action unfold quickly.
Create also falls short in terms of its menu system. The main screen contains a series of floating, island-filled islands. After you enter an island and solve all the puzzles, you can’t just jump to the next island, but must instead exit from that island in a slightly awkward fashion and then navigate from your home station to the next island. Since this is a game that will appeal to the programmer type of mind, it would have been nice if they’d set up the menu in a more intuitive and efficient way.
Still, for fans of contraption-centric puzzle games, Create can really get under your skin. Because, just as when eating potato chips, even though you know you can stop anytime you like, you just never really want to.