'Fluidity' Review - Making A Splash


Traditionally, water has been used as an element of a game, and not the central character, but Curve Studios' Nintendo published WiiWare game "Fluidity" is looking to change all that. Borrowing some influence from science class, "Fluidity" lets H2O, and all of its different states of matter, take center stage in this non-traditional, motion controlled puzzler.


For a game all about water, "Fluidity" is set in one of the most unexpected locations conceivable; inside of a magical book call the Aquaticus. Someone or something ominously named "The Influence," has infected the tome with what appear to be black ink splotches and monsters and the Aquaticus needs to use clean water to clear everything out by collecting Rainbow Drops which contain its magical essence. By tilting the Wii remote left and right players control the only fresh water left in the Aquaticus as it navigates a host of creative, water-centric puzzles throughout the world.


Who Knew Water Could Be So Much Fun?

Water may be the most abundant molecule on Earth, and apparently its unique properties make it a great protagonist for a game. Water, ice and steam all play different roles throughout "Fluidity," with each offering up distinctive takes on the puzzles in the game. You start out only in liquid form, but soon gain the ability to change states, which becomes necessary to reach more Rainbow Drops and new areas of the game, as well as venture further into older ones. Each puzzle is expertly designed to test both the players' mental and physical skills, forcing them to plan ahead while trying to make targeted "jumps," coalescing into an impressive overall experience.

And Yet The Water Moves As Well

Fans of quality WiiWare games will immediately notice similarities between the in the gameplay and the controls in "Fluidity" and one of the best downloadable titles of the year, "And Yet It Moves." While the gameplay doesn't end up being even remotely derivative, the motion controls are just about the same, and that is to say dead on. Most Wii gamers and developers have gotten over waggle by now, but tilting is the new waggle.

Save The Fish!

While on your journey to collect the Rainbow Drops for the Aquaticus, there's also set of collectible puzzle pieces hidden in each area of the game, that upon collected unlock minigame boards for each chapter. They're nothing over the top, but they are a nice distraction, especially later in the game when the Rainbow Drops become harder and harder to find.


It's Got A Certain Washing Machine Quality To It

If there is one daunting problem that plagues "Fluidity" it's that the central mechanic of the game, moving the water left and right, is done by tilting the world, and not just the controller. Games like the Konami classic "Time Pilot" and more recently "LocoRoco" have done very similar things, but it's still likely to make you dizzy, and potentially even motion sick. A reticule that is set as the default around the center of the screen further magnifies this discomfort by not rotating along with the screen. Fortunately, there is an option to turn it off.

All The Way Back To The Beginning

There were a couple of odd design decisions that were made around starting and stopping in "Fluidity." First off, whenever you collect a Rainbow Drop you are automatically sent back to the beginning of the level to start your search for another anew. While this is often necessary, because once you've collected the Drop you hit a dead end, there are times when it just impedes your forward progress. There's more than one Rainbow Drop on the way to another, which means you end up having to retrace your steps just to continue beyond that point.

At the other end of the spectrum, if you accidentally go down a path that you have already been, that ends up being a dead end, you can't opt to head back to the start of the level. Instead, you just need to redo the puzzle and get the Rainbow Drop a second (or maybe even third) time to reset back to the start. Both are frustrating, and could have easily been fixed with some additional options.


At first glance "Fluidity" could come off as a bit of a one trick pony that takes after its recent predecessor "And Yet It Moves" and Sony's "LocoRoco," but Curve Studios manages to take advantage of many of the unique properties of water and exploit them for gamers" entertainment. "Fluidity" is a fun, creative title that proves that motion-based games can be enjoyable without being exhausting (both physically and conceptually). While I wouldn’t recommend playing "Fluidity" for long periods of time, it's a great puzzle game to get your brain juices flowing no matter what kind of gamer you are.