Games that combine multiple types of gameplay into a single integrated experience tend to leave us impressed. Cogs had that effect on us. This ingenious combination of sliding puzzles, spinning gears, and connecting pipes make it one of the most enjoyable, innovative puzzlers on the platform.
You may be turned off immediately by the idea of a series of slider puzzles, but this is a whole new kind of machine. In order to get each of the game’s contraptions to run, you must create a line of gears from the starting point to the activation gear by sliding around tiles. As with all sliding puzzles, there is only one open space, making it quite difficult at times.
Almost every puzzle introduces a variation that shakes up the gameplay. For example, some have multiple rows of gears to connect, two-sided tiles, or musical notes that must be played in order. Pipe-based levels introduce even more new elements. These are still based on slider puzzles, but when connecting pipes instead of cogs, you must sometimes blow up balloons, redirect steam of different colors, and make sure there are no leaks.
NASA: The early years.
One aspect of Cogs that stood out to us were the 3D puzzles. By swiping with two fingers, you can maneuver your point of view around the machine in any way you want. Many levels make good use of this by having multiple sides. Few games use 3D to their advantage like Cogs does, let alone do it this well.
Slider puzzles are known to be difficult, but what makes Cogs appealing is that the difficulty curve is gradual. Once you reach the harder content, you’ll feel confident in your sliding power. To help out new players, the main game allows you to keep at a puzzle for as long as you want with no penalty, though a faster time and using fewer moves result in bonus stars.
After beating a level, you can then try to master it in the challenge modes. The time-based levels give you 30 seconds to beat the puzzle, which on difficult levels can be nearly impossible, even for pros. Even tougher is the limited movement mode, where you must solve the puzzle in just ten moves. This requires delicate pre-planning to execute correctly.
Gears of war.
Graphically, Cogs is an absolute beauty. The rusty textures, 3D models, and elaborate machines all look very stylish and crisp. Once you complete a puzzle, the machine bursts into motion, which is always rewarding. A few examples are a jack-in-the-box, flying drone, and rocket ship. The gears sound very real, which brings the sense of immersion a step further.
A minor issue we came across was that the game would occasionally freeze for about two seconds on our 3GS, breaking the immersion. We aren’t sure if this is an issue across other models, but it does little damage to this steam-powered jewel.
Cogs’ pricing model is an interesting one. For the initial purchase, you get a set of 12 levels, all of which are fairly easy. After these, each additional 10-level pack is $0.99. The entire game will end up costing you $4.95, or half the price of the PC counterpart.
If you’re looking for a great new puzzle game, you owe it to yourself to try out Cogs. While the market for puzzles on the App Store is a crowded one, this is among the very best on the platform.