Pipe Push Paradise is the epitome of what is both to love, and to hate, about puzzlers. On the one hand, it gets incredibly frustrating, but once a solution clicks, the sense of accomplishment is tremendous. Though be warned – Pipe Push will make you really, really work for it. It all begins as you arrive on an island to find your grandfather, the island’s renowned plumber, asleep. Other islanders inform you he’s been this way for quite some time however, and ask you to step into his boots to fix the island’s plumbing. And off you go.
The first few rooms are deceptively simple, but Pipe Push very quickly takes the training wheels off. Gameplay consists of using your avatar to, well, push pipe sections around. Simple, yet the fact that you’re limited to literally just pushing means you’ll need to properly plan ahead in order to not end up with a piece irretrievably against a wall or down a hole. Thankfully, a quick undo action on B is available to instantly undo any mistakes, allowing you to at least try out an idea with no real consequences. A press of Y will restart you completely should you royally muck up, though even this can be undone in the same manner with a press of B.
Soon, simple straight sections are complimented with curved or S-Bend sections, which in addition to sliding about, will also flip over if pushed on the correct side. Such seemingly small additions increase the scope of what the game can offer in a huge way. Add these to the frankly maddeningly small areas in which to maneuver, and it’s easy to get held up on a section which initially appears straightforward. One early puzzle had me literally going in circles, as once pipes are assembled in the correct order you also need to be able to get out of the room. Everything I tried had me back in the exact same, incorrect spot, over and over.
Only by a touch of luck did it occur to me that I could build an archway for myself with said pipes. And only on revisiting the level to see if my wife had any better luck did I notice the level was called… Archway… Paying attention to the names of the level often gives a hint to what you should be looking for, though even then actually figuring it out takes some doing. Levels are categorized as one of four difficulties – from easy to expert. Perhaps (most assuredly) I’m just not the sharpest knife in the block, but anything above medium I often found incredibly difficult.
The over world map is split up into several areas, with each one locked-off behind a certain puzzle – these thankfully tend to be one of the easier ones in an area, though not without challenge, for sure. Harder levels often had me reaching for the off button in frustration, but even if I did walk away, I’d still be pushing and flipping pipes in my head as I went about my day – the challenge really gets under your skin. Of course, once you nail that solution to a puzzle (especially if you’ve been stuck for a while) it feels great.
Exiting the room sees the controller give you a solid rumble, as if the game is giving you a firm handshake and saying “Well done, you did it!!” a little chime goes off and that counter in the lower part of the screen ticks up by one. You’re buoyed to get straight in to the next challenge. Walking in, the pipes appear, the name flashed by and you’re off. 20 minutes later, you’ll be back to cursing at the screen as your well laid plan ends up with the pipe being just out of place, requiring a complete rethink… It’s to the game’s ease of use that you’ll keep coming back though.
Those will patience and a mind for spatial puzzles will no doubt relish the challenge on offer here. While difficulty spikes can frustrate to the point of quitting the game, something about it kept me coming back for one more go. And the euphoria of actually solving one of the harder areas hits the spot all good puzzle games should. A snappy interface helps you test out ideas quickly, which is essential when one wrong move would otherwise see your entire plan go out the window. Oh, and if you plan on playing for extended periods of time, I suggest you put on some music or podcasts as the soundtrack is repetitive and, frankly, annoying.
Those with patience and a mind for spatial puzzles will no doubt relish the challenge on offer here. Whilst difficulty spikes can frustrate to the point of quitting entirely, this is one of those games that gets that under your skin, you cant help but return. That being said, this is likely only going to appeal to a specific crowd, and if that’s you, you might want to bring your own tunes. The audio here is truly annoying.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.