TITLE: Chuck’s Challenge 3D
DEVELOPER: Niffler, Ltd.
PUBLISHER: Nkidu Games, Inc.
GENRE: Indie Puzzler
PLATFORM: PC via Steam
RELEASE DATE: February 28, 2014
PRICE: $9.99 via Steam
The world of indie gaming is filled with titles; some great, some okay, and some downright terrible. Thankfully, the indie gem known as Chuck’s Challenge 3D falls into the first such category. Although this game was released at the end of February, its review code sat in my inbox until fairly recently because of how busy I’ve been lately (not to mention the fact that I’d been dealing with a dying GPU that needed replacing), but once I finally redeemed the game’s code and gave it a whirl, I must admit that I was very pleasantly surprised.
So, what the heck is Chuck’s Challenge 3D? Well, first, I want to point out that the strange, cute little alien guy you play as is not Chuck. Rather, Chuck is a game designer who is whisked off to the purple alien’s world for the purpose of entertaining him. Chuck creates a series of maze-like rooms that our hero must navigate and reach the end of, each time trying to complete them with more efficient times. As you might expect, the areas get much more challenging as you progress, but thankfully, the game’s designers learned a lot from the successful games of the genre and introduce new challenges slowly so that the player learns about things as they progress. Even though the game does get quite difficult, nothing really feels unfair about it.
As I got into the game, I couldn’t help but wonder if its designers were fans of The Adventures of Lolo (a.k.a. Eggerland) back in the 1980s and ’90s, because this game builds off of that series in a very good way. While you’re not collecting crystal hearts in order to open a treasure chest in each room, the game does involve collection aspects, block puzzles, tricky enemies to avoid, and many other challenges. One thing I thought was really cool is that rather than being forced to retry an area (like Lolo, who would basically commit suicide to reset a room), the player has the ability to rewind time and take back bad moves that they’ve made. Interestingly, rewinding time only rewinds their physical activities as the clock is still ticking towards room completion.
One really cool thing about this game is that the single-player experience isn’t where the game ends. Instead, the game provides the player with all the tools they need to design their own devious puzzler experience, and once they complete their rooms they can share them online for others to enjoy. Even if you aren’t into the design aspect, the game’s lifespan is significantly enhanced by the fact that you can fire it up and play countless levels designed by players all around the world.
The game features delightfully cute and colorful graphics, catchy tunes, and solid gameplay. It is slightly buggy though (it froze up for a bit one time when I was playing), and I don’t like how full-screening the game actually effectively keeps it in full-screen windowed mode. This isn’t as severe a problem as it might be with other games because the mouse isn’t used much, so you won’t accidentally click outside the game area and minimize the game. Plus, this is only an issue on multi-monitor setups like mine.
Chuck’s Challenge 3D is a fun indie puzzler that brings the magic of map-creation and sharing to life to really enhance its replayability. It’s a game I have no trouble recommending very highly and, lucky you, it’s only $9.99 on Steam!