|Min OS X: 10.3.1 Graphics: 32 MB VRAM|
IntroductionArctic Quest is a new inlay puzzle game ported to the Macintosh by the Russian game company Exclusive Games, LLC, which has also brought such titles as Tank-o-Box and Brave Dwarves: Back for Treasure to our platform. Originally created by Alawar Games for Windows, Arctic Quest adds some nice graphics and an icy water theme to the inlay puzzle genre. While the game offers sixty levels of addictive gameply, several problems with the game ultimately make it a disappointment.
The game's story and controls are straightforward. The Snow King has unleashed a bitter frost on the tropical zones of the earth, freezing over islands, oceans, and animals. Your job is to complete the 60 puzzles he has set leading up to his castle, gradually melting the ice in different zones as you move along. To do this, you grab chunks of ice of different shapes falling from the sky and fit them together in the puzzles on each level. When you completely fill in a puzzle, part of the zone is melted; if too many pieces fall in the water you have to restart the level and try again. When you get through all 60 levels the land is ice-free and you have won.
GraphicsOne of the strong points of the game is its graphics. While not necessary for this type of game, attention was obviously paid to making the game nice to look at. The colors are vibrant, the pieces of ice just look nice, and even the screen that shows your level is nicely designed and changes to show what areas you have melted as you progress. As you free bonus fish they fall into the water and begin swimming around, and after you successfully complete a level a little animation shows part of the current scene melting and coming back to life. These are nice touches which make the game more attractive than some others of this genre.
SoundAs opposed to the graphics, the sound does not add much to gameplay. In fact, it can really get annoying. There is only one soundtrack, it plays on every level, it gets repetitive, and sticks in your head like a bad song you can't get rid of. In fact that is exactly what happened to me several times and I had to turn on some music to get the theme out of my head. There is a different theme that plays on open and between levels, and due to delays between clicking to play and the game actually moving forward, these themes overlap for several seconds every time you start a new puzzle, lending a little extra annoyance. The one bright spot are some of the sound effects that occur during gameplay. I especially liked the nice "plop" you heard when you freed a bonus fish and it fell in the water. Overall however, the sound definitely detracted from the gaming experience.
GameplayControls are straightforward and make playing the game quite simple. You click on pieces of falling ice to grab them and drag them to an empty spot in the puzzle, click again to drop them, and press the space bar if you need to rotate the piece before putting it down. You can also pick up pieces that are already in the water and put them in the puzzle. Along the way you can pick up bonuses trapped in some of the pieces which can help you in various ways, such as slowing down the falling pieces, painting in empty tiles, or smashing extra pieces of ice. There is also a fire that you can use to melt unneeded pieces of ice, but it goes out after each piece is melted and takes time before it is lit again. If the water gets filled with pieces of ice all the way across the screen, you lose the level and have to play it again.