Pipe Push Paradise
Switch version tested
Review code provided
On the game’s website, Pipe Push Paradise is introduced as “a difficult open world puzzle game about plumbing.” The wise will heed those words well, for “difficult” is not an understatement. You have been warned.
As the game begins, the silent protagonist arrives by boat on an island paradise, but things are not as idyllic as they seem. Broken plumbing has caused a severe shortage of drinking water. We learn from the villagers that our protagonist comes from a family of plumbers. Her uncle usually handles the repairs, but he’s been sound asleep for months, and the reasons why are, so far, a mystery. The villagers now look to you to fix their plumbing and restore their drinking water.
On the outside, Pipe Push Paradise seems every inch a tropical utopia. The artwork is simple yet gorgeous and gives a strong children’s picture-book vibe. Soothing acoustic guitar music loops in the background. The straightforward controls can be mastered in a matter of seconds (joystick or D-pad to move, B to rewind, X to reset). But dig a bit deeper, and you’ll discover the truth.
This is not paradise. It’s purgatory.
I love puzzle games! It’s one of my favourite genres. Ideally, the challenges should ramp up gradually. Early levels should be fairly easy to let you gain your footing. The middle levels should be difficult but not feel impossible or unfair. And towards the end, your problem-solving skills should be stretched to the brink. Pipe Push Paradise, however, skips straight to the conclusion of this formula. By the third puzzle, I was already stressed. By the fourth, I was stumped.
The solutions to the puzzles usually appear quite obvious at first glance. Players simply have to manoeuvre a series of pipe pieces into place in order to connect a start point with an endpoint and restore the flow of water. But getting the pieces into place is a whole other story.
Pieces cannot be rotated (to my eternal dismay); they can only be flipped 180 degrees. One always must be careful of pushing pipes into a corner or against a wall, lest it becomes impossible to move them again. The puzzle areas perpetually seem to be one column short of the space actually needed to solve the problem.
During my first sitting, I played Pipe Push Paradise for three hours and managed to solve only eight challenges. That night, I slept restlessly, dreaming of impossible puzzles and malevolent pipe pieces that purposefully kept me going in eternal circles.
That’s right, the puzzles gave me actual nightmares.
Pipe Push Paradise boasts 47 challenges that range from Easy to Expert, but don’t let this fool you. There is no Easy anything. To-date, I’ve somehow solved a whopping 35 of them via blood, sweat, and many, many tears, but finally reaching an answer is not a satisfying experience. In fact, my primary emotion when playing this game is pure frustration. To be perfectly honest, if the answers to the puzzles were published online, I’d look them up in a heartbeat. I feel a bit dirty admitting that, but it’s the truth.
Pipe Push Paradise is an extremely well-done puzzle game. However, it’s far too difficult to actually be much fun. I hesitate to say this since the fault may primarily be a failure of my own intellect rather than a shortcoming of the game itself. And besides, the publisher is very upfront about how tough the experience is. Nevertheless, it makes it difficult for me to recommend to any but the absolute brainiest of puzzle enthusiasts.
TBG Score: 6/10
Platform: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 24/12/2018 (Switch)
No. of Players: 1
Developer: Corey Martin
Download link: eShop