Developer: Moraes Game Studio
Release Date: February 27, 2021
I’m a big fan of minimalistic puzzle games. I don’t need a convoluted story line – just a solid set of rules I need to follow and a whole bunch of puzzles that need solving. Puzzle Car fits that aesthetic pretty perfectly. I do wish there’d been some kind of actual directions, but there was nothing here that really wasn’t (mostly) self explanatory.
Puzzle Car gives you 50 levels of rearranging pieces of road to get from START to END. If it sounds a little bit basic, well, it is. Unlike a lot of other puzzle games, that start out simple and then keep piling on extra mechanics, Puzzle Car pretty much shows you what it has to offer in the first half dozen levels. There are roads, crosswalks (which require stop lights in the space before), and tunnels (which connect only to specific other tunnels), and a couple kinds of collectables you get by driving over them.
If you try to get your car there in the least amount of moves, you will miss out on the collectibles, which will allow you to complete the level, but in order to perfect it, all collectibles on the map must be picked up. Once I figured this out, I made it a point to make sure my car crossed all the available tiles before reaching the exit.
The tunnels are the only slightly tricky part – when you have a tunnel selected, you will need to look for the small yellow indicator over another tunnel piece to figure out which ones are connected. It’s subtle enough that you’d likely miss it if you didn’t know it was there, and this is probably the only mechanic in the game that could have benefited from either a bolder indicator or some text description of the mechanic. You can always reset the level, even after finishing it, so even with trial and error, it wasn’t much of a set back.
The levels only unlock upon completion of the previous level, so you won’t be skipping around. In about an hour of play, I completed 30 out of 50 available levels with no missed collectibles. If you’re the type who really likes achievement spam, you do unlock an achievement for each level completed, and there are no grindy achievements – just play the game normally, and you should unlock each and every one.
There is probably no part of the entire game that is going to blow your mind, but the parts are cohesive enough that if you just wanted to spend a couple hours solving puzzles, this will scratch that itch. Moraes Game Studios seem to have recently swapped focus from shoot-em-ups to reasonably priced chill puzzle games, and I’d absolutely consider picking up another one of their puzzle offerings. However, if shoot-em-ups are your jam, I’d love to know how those games compare quality wise.
SteamDB estimates that Puzzle Car has sold somewhere between 800 – 2,300 copies on Steam. Despite low sales, it hasn’t garnered a single negative review, and has a rank of 830 out of 10,967 releases in 2021.