The most dreadful thing imaginable has happened. Your eggs have gone missing. Luckily, whoever stole them messed with the wrong bird. You have a very particular set of skills. A skill set which can literally turn the opposition on its head.
Mallow Drops is a platforming puzzle game, of sorts. In it players control a small bird as it overcomes a host of obstacles to collect its missing eggs. These obstacles manifest in two forms. Harmless ones include moving blocks, switches and mazes, and harmful ones such as spiked blocks, savage drop bears and the possibility of disappearing into the endless void.
Luckily this plucky little bird has a trick up its sleeve. It has the amazing power to literally move the world. In this case, spin each level in 90 or 180 degree increments. This isn’t cosmetic, the environment completely shifts with each spin. Blocks slide around, enemies are left stranded, and more.
Unfortunately, this little bird can’t fly. It does have an astonishing leaping ability, though. Players move the bird by leaping from point to point. This little bird’s will is strong, so it has no trouble gripping on to any surface. However, it can only stop when it hits a solid object to grip onto. This often sees the poor bird flying head first into certain doom.
The game is played out over five ‘worlds’, each containing 20 levels. Each world adds new ideas and concepts, building on the problems introduced in levels before to put players in even more outlandish and taxing puzzles.
At its core, Mallow Drops is quite straight forward. Where the game really makes its mark is in how these core rules are pushed to their limits in each level. It is one of those games where you start off thinking it is quite basic and repetitive, only to find yourself still playing it two hours later.
There isn’t a lot in Mallow Drops that bogs things down. Only the most fleeting of opening cinematics provides some context for what you are doing. Death during a level results in a near instant respawn. There is no waiting around; you can die multiple times in a variety of ways and not have your momentum interrupted. And most levels seem to be just the right length.
Each level is its own puzzle. Some you will come into and just know straight away how to solve it. Others will take some time. But you never feel frustrated, or like it is impossible. All the tools for resolving the level are right there in front of you.
The music and sound effects are really good. The background music is short and catchy. If it was used on a game that went for a while I can see how it would get old. But for the fleeting time players spend on each level, somewhere from 5 seconds to 5 minutes, the boppy little tunes are welcoming. Sound effects are sparsely used but well done when implemented.
Even the graphics are a joy. Simplified and quite cartoonish, they do a great job of communicating the layout of each level while also injecting a lot of character and life. Because everything fits into the same cube shape, the characters are all squat and cute. In particular the drop bears are adorable!
In fact, the only negative thing I can mention is the leader boards. On completion, each level provides the player with a breakdown of time, rotations, moves and deaths. As well as this the player’s best time is displayed on a leader board of other times. I would have really liked to have been able to call this leader board up separately, either in game or somewhere on the internet.
This is purely for self-centred reasons. After one level I noticed myself in a position directly above a friend of mine (who also coincidentally works for another game media outlet). The ability to see how he had done on other levels, and focusing my attentions on these to better my times, would have been a terrific tool. True, basically a tool for trolling my friend. But isn’t that what games are about?
SUMMARY: As a whole Mallow Drops is a fantastically made game. It is a great example of how a basic core idea can be used in a myriad of interesting and challenging ways. Even for people who don’t like puzzle games, the tactile nature of the challenges should mean that these players will get their monies worth out of the first two worlds. While for those who enjoy more taxing physical puzzles, the later levels are sure to twist your mind in knots.
Mallow Drops is developed by Gritfish and published by Green Stripe Snake. It is available right now on Steam.
Reviewed On: PC
Review System: nVidiaN9600C, G1 Sniper M7 S1151, 16GB RAM
Playtime: 4 hours