Reviewed: January 27, 2010
Released: February 16, 2010
App Store Price: $.99
Cogs is brilliant. Cogs is beautiful. Cogs has style. Cogs will put your mental powers to the ultimate test, and best of all itís only $.99. Remember those slider puzzles you used to get in your cereal boxes back in the 70ís and 80ís Ė usually a 3x3 or 4x4 grid of squares with one square missing and you had to slide the pieces around to make a picture or put numbers in order or solve something. It was the precursor to Rubikís Cube.
Cogs brilliantly combines those slider puzzles with the magical Cube of Rubik to create one of the most addictive games on my iPhone. I was only 3-4 levels into this game, and I was already tweeting and messaging everyone I knew to download the app at once Ė it was just that good.
The concept is simple but thatís about the only thing that is. Cogs features cleverly designed 3D objects with several flat surfaces that contain sliding panels. These panels may be blank or they might have a gear or a piece of pipe or even a striker for a bell. Your goal is to create a fully functioning path of objects from point A to point B, but that path will quickly include multiple sides of these 3D objects.
Cogs eases you into the gameplay and control scheme with some easy levels, but things get impressively challenging about five puzzles in as you start moving gears on multiple sides of a cube or routing steam pipes to inflate a balloon or trying to figure out how to make two bells chime precisely at the same time or even play music. You are ranked with bronze, silver, and gold gears based on completion time and number of moves, and thatís just the Inventory Mode.
Once you complete a puzzle in the Inventor Mode it is unlocked in the Time Challenge Mode where you have 30 seconds to solve the puzzle to beat the challenge. And then you have the Move Challenge where every puzzle can and must be solved in 10 moves or less. The controls are intuitive. Simply tap and drag the tiles around the object. You can drag multiple adjoining tiles to keep the move counter low, and you can spin the objects in 3D space with a two-finger touch and drag.
I really dug the whole steampunk vibe that gave the game a bit of a Jules Verne meets Leonardo da Vinci flavor Ė even in the mechanical menus that spin and rotate to reveal hidden panels like the Awards requirement for each puzzle. Once in the game you have a clever display system that has the puzzle in full 3D on the right and a few panels of info on the left. Even if the puzzle is a 2D object you can still rotate the panel to view it from the rear and some puzzles require simultaneous solutions on both sides. .
The audio is incredible both in the menus and the game. In the menus you get this very mechanical theme with ratcheting gears and a repetitive melody like a robot assembly line. Once you launch a puzzle things get far less stressful with a pleasing relaxing tune that eases your stress as you solve each mind-bending puzzle. I loved the subtle sound trick used to indicate when you were approaching each of the various medal requirements on the stopwatch Ė a few moments of ticking then a chime to indicate you are now trying for the next lower medal.
Cogs comes with 10 challenging puzzles then teases you with a lengthy list of additional puzzles, 40 in all, available as in-game purchases for $.99 per 10-puzzle pack. If you want to experience the game in its entirety youíre looking at $5, a small price to pay for one of the cleverest and most addicting games Iíve played on the iPhone this year. And you also have Crystal Leaderboards and Achievements to keep you competitive with your friends online.
If you love puzzle games that will challenge you the first time then compel you to replay them to best your previous efforts as well as play them in the various challenge modes then I canít recommend Cogs highly enough. This is puzzle game perfection and one of the most stylish games Iíve played on any system, mobile or console. I canít wait to see what this visionary studio comes up with next.