What do you get if you cross Kula World with an isometric view, add in a design that would be easiest to describe as a futuristic Waterworld, churn it out for a mobile platform then port it over to the Xbox One? One Hundred Ways of course!
Developed by Sunlight Games over in Germany, the mobile version originally featured 100 levels, hence the name, but has since had another 15 levels added. The Xbox One version features an additional 18 levels exclusive to the console, but the name One Hundred and Thirty-Three Ways didn’t quite have the same ring to it.
One Hundred Ways is a puzzle game in the same vein as Kula World or Marble Madness in that the player needs to get the ball from A to B avoiding obstacles on the way. The twist with OHW is that the player does not control the ball, instead relying on certain tools on the map, or given to you in the inventory, to get to the destination. This approach requires forward thinking from the player as each run needs to be flawless for the ball to reach the goal; any mistake prompts a restart as there is no way to directly steer the ball to safety. The game however leaves the tools in the places you left them and entices a trial and error approach to tackling the puzzles, This feature keeps you playing for longer than you anticipate as you yearn to give it ‘just one more try’. Obviously the further you progress the more difficult the levels become, but for the first 40 there does not seem to be much of a learning curve as they are all very simple.
In the later levels the challenge comes not from surveying the scene and where the ball needs to go, but in actually using the tools given to you in the correct order. For example, I had a switch to lower the five walls blocking my path and a spring. The easiest option was to lay the switch down and pass over all the now lowered walls. But by the time I got to the fifth wall, the timer had run out and the wall had popped back up. This was where the spring came in handy as I could use this to hop over the first wall, then place the timer and have more than enough time to pass over the remaining four walls. Sometimes, these insights can come to you straight away just from simply glancing at the map, but certainly in the later levels, you’ll have to make sure you aren’t afraid to leave certain tools in the inventory. They aren’t necessarily red herrings, but there is usually more than one way to complete each level.
For a mobile port, the team has done a decent job of sprucing the graphics up for a home console, including adding a watery background. No longer are the platforms floating in a desolate blank space, they are now floating on a desolate expanse of water. In fairness the water effects are actually alright and certainly give a bit more life into the game than the black background did before.
But for all the gameplay hooks and pleasant graphics, there are a few less appealing features to match. Firstly, the game doesn’t sound great. The sound effects, whilst welcome to indicate what obstacle the ball is at when your camera is focused elsewhere on the map, are very basic. Worse though, is that the game only has one piece of music for its entirety. It’s not a bad track by any means, but the game needs a couple more otherwise you will quickly end up disliking it.
Secondly, the robot companion that greets you at the start of each level has some noticeable grammatical and spelling errors. This is by no means a huge issue, but it certainly adds a few scuffs to what is for the most part, a very polished and complete game.
Certainly a bigger issue though is that sometimes the physics of the ball prevent a level being completed properly. More frequently in the later levels than the earlier ones, the ball may start acting strangely: not speeding up when expected, not bouncing off obstacles and/or going further than anticipated. All that is required in these cases is a simple double tap of the left thumbstick to start the level again and the ball will likely start behaving itself again. Again it’s not game-breaking, but can cause some frustration as levels get longer and more complicated, only for them to break down on an issue outside of your control.
The achievements are all very straight forward, as in once you have completed every single level, you will have all 15 achievements. There aren’t any for completing a certain level in a specific way so you are free to use your own tactics and methods to get all 1000G.
Even with the additional 18 levels exclusive to the Xbox One, the completion time is not huge. Many people will be able to complete OHW in less than 10 hours, depending on how quickly you can solve the puzzles. But the game comes in cheap as well, at £7.99, which is towards the lower end for [email protected] titles. It certainly feels like a decent price.
One Hundred Ways is an enjoyable little puzzle game. Whether it is worthy of a console release is a debate for another time, but it cannot be argued that the team at Sunlight have done a pretty good job porting it over. A few little problems only slightly impact the overall experience, but the majority of the time it is a decent game with just the right amount of challenge in the later levels.