If anything can be said about Rotor’scope: The Secret of the Endless Energy, it’s that its thorough. At its heart, the game is a simple puzzler with a narrative wrapped around it, but developer Nivel21 has managed to combine the wonders of social networking with a solid game to create a user experience quite unlike anything else you’ll find on the 360 today.
The premise for the game is pretty basic; you start the game in a mansion with rooms which need to be explored using a special device known as the rotor’scope. As you solve the puzzles, you’ll learn more about the device from a mysterious man hidden within the mansion.
Since the puzzles are the main focus of the game the narrative really takes a back seat. It’s not going to win any awards for its story telling, and some of the twists and turns are entirely expected, but the puzzling play is second to none.
The rotor’scope is used throughout the mansion to unlock various rooms. Each time you’re required to visit a specific location, puzzles will reveal themselves on the map. Occasionally, you’ll need to complete a series of puzzles in order to advance the storyline, such as fixing a gramophone, or unlocking a special door. The puzzles themselves start out pretty basic and advance in difficulty as you progress through the game.
Rotor’scope utilizes the basic match three puzzle style which has become a staple in the genre, but it tosses up the mix by adding special pieces that you’ll have to meet specific requirements to solve. An example of this is the magnetic piece, which will attach itself to any of the metal blocks in the puzzle, making it impossible to solve if you don’t get it in the correct place the first time.
Switch blocks and power blocks are a few more pieces you’ll encounter, with switch blocks changing the color based on the block on top of them, and power blocks emitting a line of power that vaporizes other blocks in a straight line.
The pacing of the puzzles is pretty decent, which is a must for a game that is as long as this. New elements are introduced at a rate to keep things interesting, and you won’t make a huge leap into staggering difficulty after solving just a few easy puzzles. There’s a healthy dose of puzzling to be had, but if you still want more by the end of the game, there are bonus puzzles which you can complete, ranging in difficulty from easy to hardcore.
The art direction utilizes a model found in old-fashioned Japanese RPGs, in which a static drawn character introduces their dialogue with minor changes to facial expressions. While it borrows this style from JRPGs, the art is decidedly western and crisp, though advancing through multiple dialogue exchanges with this format can be a tad trying. Aside from the art, the music is pretty standard as well, fitting with the steampunk theme which the game attempts to achieve.
A unique aspect of Rotor’scope is the Facebook integration. The Rotor’scope Club lets you upload your score and time for each puzzle you complete to Facebook, earning you points with the application and a way to compete with your friends who have the game. When you obtain a certain number of points, you can get special unlocks from the club. Aside from serving as a way to deliver unique content, the Facebook integration is actually a neat way to deliver challenges to your friends.
In-game puzzles are colored according to how well you’ve done. If the puzzle is complete and is silver, someone else had the better solution. If it’s gold, you’ve found the best solution for the room. Uploading your score not only awards you points, but if you’ve obtained one of the top three positions in clearing the puzzle, you’ll be awarded with additional points for unlocking more puzzles within the game.
My only complaint with the Facebook integration is that if you’re submitting all of your scores, your profile is going to get extremely cluttered. If Nivel21 could find a way to make the application announce uploaded scores once a day, instead of immediately after uploading them, this would cut down on the spam and make the feature more enjoyable. As it stands, I only uploaded around ten of my scores before I got tired of having to clean out my feed from Rotor’scope spam and stopped worrying with submitting them.
Despite some of the flaws with the Facebook integration, Rotor’scope is an extremely satisfying puzzler with enough longevity to keep you solving puzzles long after you’ve solved the mystery of the Rotor’scope.
Gamer Limit gives Rotor’scope an 8.5/10.