A couple of years ago, a puzzle game titled Energy Cycle emerged onto the scene, one that sparked memories of the infamous Rubik’s Cube from yesteryear. Many, many hours of frustration were spent on attempting to solve the complex levels on offer and now, Energy Cycle Edge – the sequel – has arrived on Xbox One, seeing developers Sometimes You continue with the same basic elements, whilst putting a unique spin on proceedings too. Will it light up my life this time and in turn fulfil the puzzling needs of the masses, or is Energy Cycle Edge the sequel we could’ve done without?
Energy Cycle Edge is a puzzler that sees various grid designs full of coloured cells thrown your way, with the sole aim being to change all of the cells the same colour. With three different colours to cycle between – blue, green and orange – and each cell change affecting those that are adjacent to it, both vertically and horizontally, you’ll need to figure out how best to approach each level in order to make one colour reign supreme. It doesn’t matter which colour, as long as they are all the same. I only know all of this and grasped what to expect due to my experience with the previous game, not because of the presence of any tutorial or helpful advice from the game. It’s sink or swim.
There are 44 levels in total, with the first batch featuring straightforward, single-layered grids, before moving onto those that have extra layers, until you’re eventually getting to grip with cube-like layouts. These additional layers are what set Energy Cycle Edge apart from its predecessor, requiring the need to consider the knock-on effect of any changes made. If you can’t handle the initial levels, there’s virtually no chance of you succeeding in the latter ones. The small mercy is that all of the levels are open from the beginning; therefore you can have a bash and give the more complex designs go if you wish.
Understanding the controls shouldn’t be too difficult, given that a single button press on a cell will change its colour with the right bumper altering the perspective to view other layers of the grid. The tricky part is in the puzzles themselves, especially when handling the relentless trial and error as you go through a number of possibilities before usually being left with a rogue colour to fit in with the rest. And in terms of gameplay, there isn’t much more to Energy Cycle Edge; the pattern of play stays the same throughout and just gets harder by introducing more cells.
Unlike its predecessor, there are no other modes to get stuck into, but for those who end up garnering enjoyment from the solving of the puzzling levels present though, they will appreciate the opportunity to replay all of the levels using randomised colours via the option menu; thus adding some replayability. But for everyone else who struggles to work out the formula to success, and well, that extra option will just cause them even more frustration. What doesn’t help matters is how hard it is to see which cell the cursor is on, with it not standing out at all.
Whilst on the subject of visuals, there’s not much to see in the backgrounds, but the simplicity of them, alongside the ambient soundtrack, does help create a relaxed atmosphere to allow your complete focus to be on the matter at hand. Imagine a bit of soft trance music in the emptiness of space and you won’t be too far off.
The saving grace for Energy Cycle Edge is the price point at under a fiver, because it’s not a lot of money to take a risk on a puzzle game and if you happen to have enjoyed Energy Cycle, then you can’t go wrong with this for a few hours of testing the old grey matter. Unfortunately, there’s no explanation of what to do for newcomers, the whole experience gets repetitive very quickly and most will probably give up on the monotonous trial and error approach that’s required. When you wind up getting annoyed at the first level, completing the rest is something of a pipe dream.
With the help of a walkthrough you could easily get 1000 Gamerscore in under an hour from Energy Cycle Edge on Xbox One though, and that’s probably the main reason I’d suggest an impulse purchase. Otherwise, it’ll just be an unnecessary frustration-filled experience.