Games derived from realistic physics simulations offer some of the most exciting types of play around right now. From Eric Chahi’s thoughtful XBLA title, From Dust, which uses sand, water and lava simulation to create shifting custody puzzles, to Trials Evolution’s bike-hopping sprints to finish line, it’s Hookshot Inc’s opinion that – fittingly enough – physics holds the key to the medium’s future.
The Art of Balance adds weight to the argument, presenting a disarmingly simple set of physical conundrums, which, through realistic physics, appear to have near limitless solutions.
Your task is straightforward: balance the objects the game gives you in a tower and have it stand for a count of three without toppling.
Objects comes in all sizes, from triangles and circles to more complex blobby shapes with uneven weight distribution. In the latter stages of the game some objects have different properties, such as those made of glass which can only bear the weight of three objects before they shatter.
The game makes increasingly demanding requests of you as a ‘balancer’ and, as it appears to use an accurate physics simulation, if your weight distribution’s out by a single millimeter, you often risk the entire structure’s collapse.
As with Trials Evolution, restarts are quick and easy, making the game difficult to put down as you endeavor to stand its contents up.
Originally released for WiiWare in 2010, the 3DS is arguably a more appropriate home for the game, objects dangling pleasingly from your stylus as you inch them pixel by pixel into place (and an option to use the analogue stick if you prefer).
At £6 it’s an expensive game when set against the iOS library, but with eight worlds and over 150 levels to complete, there’s a huge amount of content here to play through, with the difficulty curve rising elegantly as you progress.
While we expect increasingly complex physics simulations to pepper our games over the next few years, there’s a zen-like elegance to The Art of Balance, revealing that simple ideas built upon complex simulations have the potential to the most satisfying.