Energy Cycle Review

By Marc Hollinshead,
"It's almost over. I'm so happy."

This is not something that you should be saying when coming to the end of a game. By design, video games should be entertaining you from start to finish. A difficult final boss, puzzle or quest may have you using similar words, but only because of the challenge that the obstacle poses. Finishing a game that you love regularly leaves you thinking "What do I do now?" I've felt that saddening feeling plenty of times. However, if these words are uttered because you want the game to simply end, then the game isn't doing its job properly. This is where Energy Cycle comes in. This puzzle title is an oddity of a game that may have you muttering the same words that I did, and not in a good way.

Logo

Energy Cycle is a puzzle game at heart, but the gameplay is extremely limited. The game's main menu has three modes from which to choose, as well as a "How To Play" tab that teaches all that you need to know. The game also has an unusual fascination of cats, especially those with a futuristic appearance and lightning bolts plastered across their bodies. These feline creatures have absolutely no relevance to anything in the game, though. They're just there. If you're a cat lover, but not the cute and soft kind, then you're in for a treat.

The main mode that is on offer is "Puzzle." This is where you'll be spending the majority, if not all of your time. You'll be presented with a grid of orb-like blobs and the aim is to change all of them into the same colour. The orbs will be of three different colours unless you choose to add more. You're given the choice of which colour to use in your solution, but there is a challenge to be found. When an orb is chosen, it will change colour along with every other orb that is vertically and horizontally parallel to it. It starts off fairly simple but the difficulty will quickly ramp up. Thinking ahead is usually required, but every now and then you will stumble across the solution by experimenting with random orbs and colours.

Energy Cycle 1Be careful which orbs you choose to mess with.

This is all of the gameplay that Energy Cycle has to offer. After you are done with the 28 puzzle levels, there is the option of "Time Attack" and "Infinite Play" if you desire to do more of the same. The added twist is that you'll either be against the clock in each level or simply carry on going forever (or rather, until you tire of playing). These levels can sometimes decrease the challenge drastically by spreading orbs far away from each other on the grid with no connection between them so it can quickly become boring after completing a much more challenging puzzle on level 26.

To continue this trend of a lack of content, the extremely odd music of Energy Cycle is the only audio that exists. Moving the cursor and clicking orbs creates no sound of any kind, so you'll be subject to trance-like tunes that will leave you wondering what you just heard. One such track consists of the echo of a child's laugh and utterance of "Eww" over some occasional drumming. They aren't number one hits by any stretch, but thankfully there is the option of turning the music off. However, this is essentially the equivalent of muting your TV as you won't hear a single sound afterwards.

Energy Cycle 2Aww, aren't they cute?

The visuals don't do much to strengthen the game's appeal either. Aside from the fairly pretty wispy texture of the orbs, the title looks extremely basic. The only aesthetically interesting thing is the cats. Completing a level will allow you to take a look at another cat and admire its "cuteness" before moving on to another bland grid of orbs. The game just feels like the bare bones when it comes to almost all aspects of gameplay and design, so you'll either find yourself quickly getting bored, or finishing the levels entirely before moving on to something far more engaging and visually pleasing.

There are many, many better games out there for us here on TA, but because of our insatiable lust for achievements, Energy Cycle suddenly looks far more appealing. All ten achievements of the game are tied to the progression of the puzzle levels, so competing all 28 levels will net you the 1000G whether you use a guide or not. The small price point will also make that juicy gamerscore all the more tantalising. However, those outside of the US will need to change the region on our Xbox to gain access to the game.

Summary

Energy Cycle is an oddity indeed. It is a bare bones game that only just scratches the surface in its gameplay. Repeatedly clicking orbs to music that will irritate you after five minutes is only interesting for a short while before you cave in from boredom, or push yourself to the end. Those who enjoy puzzle titles with a suitable challenge will find an ounce of pleasure as they make their way through the puzzle levels (and gain an easy 1000G along the way), but plenty of others will no doubt run to the guides for the rest of their points before moving on to the next title. Even cat lovers won't stay for long. You can see that the developer, Sometimes You, has attempted to create something unique here, but sometimes you just have to say that they haven't pulled it off.
2 / 10
Energy Cycle (Xbox One)
Positives
  • A suitable challenge for those who desire it
  • Cheap game with easy achievements
Negatives
  • Lack of content
  • Irritating audio
  • Visually uninteresting
  • What's with the cats?
Ethics
The reviewer spent a whopping 75 minutes sampling all available modes and managed to just about gain all 10 achievements in the process. An Xbox One code was provided by the ID@Xbox team for the purpose of this review.
Marc Hollinshead
Written by Marc Hollinshead
To summarize Marc in two words, it would be "Christian Gamer." You will usually find him getting stuck into story heavy action-adventure games, RPG's and the odd quirky title when he isn't raving about Dark Souls and Mass Effect. Outside the world of gaming, Marc attends and helps out in his church on a regular basis and has a not-so thrilling job in a supermarket.