The Pillar: Puzzle Escape Review

I love it when a game comes out of nowhere to surprise me with its quality. The Pillar: Puzzle Escape is just such a game. The puzzles are presented in an interesting way, offer up a good variety and there’s often a little more to proceedings than may initially appear.

At its heart, this is a game about solving simple looking variations on block sliding puzzles. Indeed, the first few we come across are pretty straight forward. But the more we play, the more Paper Bunker throw a curveball or two in; the code for a keypad may be hidden on the ceiling, or the pattern needed to press into a grid of buttons is imprinted within a gates design on the other side of the level. It’s not as intricate as something like Superliminal perhaps, but throughout the eight stages there are these sprinklings of ingenuity.

We do come back to the block puzzles more often though, which come in a few differing varieties; one tasks us with remembering a pattern (or four) that is traced out across a grid, another to fill in the grid by connecting all of the pairings of colours together without overlapping any, for example. The titular Pillar’s that pop up in the levels have four of these puzzles to solve, upon which the pillar might extend offering up four harder versions below. We’re never really lost as to what to do to proceed but there’s just enough mystery in figuring out how to get the pillars to appear that it keeps the interest high.

Each level is – depending on your puzzle solving ability – only about 20 minutes long, but this brevity serves to keep us wanting to see what’s next. There are optional hidden painting fragments to find, and those of your who hunt for achievements will be glad to hear that the full 1000g can be attained by only completing about half of the levels. I must admit to being a little disappointed in thinking I was on the last area when I only had the one achievement to pop, but there are a few, much more involved and challenging, levels beyond those listed.

I do have a couple of gripes though. Most importantly the puzzle difficulty seems a bit all over the place. One moment I was struggling to solve the aforementioned colour matching grid puzzle, then the next one would be laughably easy. The same goes for all the other puzzles too. It’s not the end of the world, it just seemed at times that a random hard one was thrown in to slow us down rather than them get progressively more involved.

The second one may not bother most of you as much but it almost broke me. This is a first person game, but the ‘Invert Controls’ option in the menu doesn’t quite do what I’d expect; instead of invert the Y axis (to how it should be) it swaps the movement and look sticks around fully. Why this is the only option is baffling to me (I know some like to play this way), but thankfully although there is a lot of walking around there is very little need to keep looking up or down, and no requirement to do so under any pressure.

Conclusion

The Pillar: Puzzle Escape is a wonderful puzzle game that keeps things brief, yet always interesting. Aside from some iffy difficulty progression – and those controls – I had a fantastic time with this game. It’s just challenging enough for the most part while offering up an almost constant change in what it’s asking you to do next. It won’t last all that long, but what is here is well worth checking out.

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This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.
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Good
  • Clever and wide variety of puzzles
  • Lovely looking, colourful visuals
  • Doesn't drag things out too much
Bad
  • Some random difficulty spikes
  • Invert controls options isn't quite what we're after...
8.3
Great
Gameplay - 8.5
Graphics - 8.5
Audio - 8
Longevity - 8
Written by
I've been gaming since Spy vs Spy on the Master System, growing up as a Sega kid before realising the joy of multi-platform gaming. These days I can mostly be found on smaller indie titles, the occasional big RPG and doing poorly at Rainbow Six: Siege. Gamertag: Enaksan

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