Push it real good!
When it comes to having an inner child I actually think I’m outwardly a child that still laughs at poo and fart jokes, but with an inner Grandma that wants to be in bed by about 9pm with a mug of cocoa. So it should be no surprise that I volunteered to review Pipe Push Paradise because my mind is firmly wedged in the gutter and I probably popped a hernia laughing at the title for about a week.
That smirk was very quickly wiped off my face because let me tell you, if this is Paradise I dread to think what hell is like!
I pride myself at being good at puzzle games. My mum, the gaming matriarch of the family, very much influenced my gaming habits early on and I grew up on a diet of text-based adventure games, maze games like Ice Palace and Sokoban games like Chip’s Challenge. I’ve bossed Portal and Portal 2 and I’m one of those weirdos that actually likes hacking mini-games. I also collected every single shard in Dragon Age Inquisition because I am a god damn legend when it comes to unicursal puzzles!
However, when it comes to pushing pipes *snigger* there were moments where I genuinely felt like my brain had imploded and my cerebrum was slowly leaking out of my ears.
You are eased in gently enough, playing the silent protagonist and niece of a renowned plumber, you are set about restoring water to the island paradise you call home. This is because your uncle and plumber extraordinaire either has narcolepsy or can’t be bothered to get out of bed and go to work, which to be fair I relate with.
The initial tutorial levels are so incredibly simple that you think you’re going to be in for an easy ride to begin with but Pipe Push Paradise, or Triple P as I’m now going to call it, has a difficulty curve so steep you might as well grab your carabiners and crampons because you are in for a tough vertical climb with massive overhangs.
There are apparently 47 levels in this charmingly beautiful game. I only know this because of the level counter in the bottom right corner of the screen cheerfully reminding me of the mountain I’ve still to climb. The levels each have a rating of easy, medium, hard and expert. So far I’ve unlocked most of the island and completed 19 puzzles, and I have never been so proud to receive an achievement for completing all the “easy” levels.
For a game that is quite simple, in its concept at least, there is actually a little bit of a story going on that you start to uncover as you unlock sections of the island. You start to see ghostly apparitions of your uncle, and after one quite dark one-sided conversation with another islander I suspect things are not what they seem. In fact I suspect there’s been some pipe-based sabotage on this island and the residents are luring innocent plumbers to their demise before they burn them in a wicker man!
I’ve now reached a point in the game where my slow but determined progress has stalled. When the game broke the third wall by bringing depth into play and having corner pipes, and s-bend pipes rolling upwards I took it in my stride. When rotating tiles, which allowed you to spin pipes round, started to appear I was positively delighted. Now there are big holes all over the place which means the island either has a terrible mole problem as well or these are the recently dug graves for all the plumbers!!
So with a 40% completion rate I might hang up my wrench and plumbing shoes and call it a day.
Although having said that, there is something oddly alluring about this game. Like returning to a lit firework, you know it’s a bad idea and it’s probably going to melt the skin off your face but it’s just so pretty and tantalising. So who knows, I may well return and stare stupidly at a collection of pipes while I sit in a pool of my own melted brain.
This is a game full of cutesy charm and whimsy but when combined with the difficulty of the puzzles you do feel like you’ve been lured in like a fish to a tasty worm, suffocated, smacked over the head and served with a butter sauce.
To be fair to the game, even its own website describes it as “a difficult open world puzzle game about plumbing” and it is not messing about. Even a grand master Buddhist monk would fall victim to the rage quit, but if your standard pipe pushing antics aren’t satisfying your thirst for challenge and you’re a regular Sheldon Cooper who enjoys a bit of drainage repair then this is the game for you.