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Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Review: Energy Balance

With two titles in two weeks, does Energy Balance fare better than Invasion?

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Energy Balance
Sometimes You | Nintendo Switch | Digital Only
1 Player
Reviewed by - Curtis Chapman

* Review Code Provided by: Sometimes You *

Energy Balance is the second budget title in as many weeks from developer Sometimes You. Out now at £2.69, the developer continues their attempt to cash in on those players with a spare couple of quid in their eShop wallets. NintendoPlay wrote a less than glowing review about their last week’s title; can this one fare any better?

Here at Nintendo Play, we are massive fans of puzzles. Professor Leyton, a Rubik’s cube, escape rooms, anything… The harder the better! There’s nothing more relaxing to us than a good head scratching brain teaser and Energy Balance does a good job of ticking almost all our boxes.

A trip through space comes to an abrupt halt, an alien and his space cat must rebalance the ships power to restore power to the various systems so that the ship can continue its voyage across the cosmos. A story serving as a framing device for an ever increasingly difficult puzzle that can only be described as a number swapping, sci-fi version of mathematical Sudoku.

Although hard to put this math puzzle into words; in the early stages, you are given a non-uniform grid, all completely filled with both positive and negative number tiles. The aim of the puzzle is to swap the tiles around the grid so that, when all the tiles are lined up either horizontally or vertically, the sum of their total at the end of the row or column is the same as the predefined special number if it is positioned at the end of that chain. As the game progresses more special number tiles are added and the grid expands, requiring both horizontal and vertical chains to be aligned at the same time to clear the puzzle. Got that? Good.

The main campaign features 12 stages of difficulty, while beating the campaign unlocks two further modes: Hardcore Mode and Square mode. Hardcore mode ramps up the difficulty further by making use of much larger numbers while Square mode implements from a small 3x3 up to an insane 6x6 square grid requiring 12 special number tiles to all add up to a specific number at once.

The most positive aspect of the main game is that the puzzle layouts are not hardcoded but instead randomly generated, both every time a new game is started and when the puzzle is reset from the pause menu. This brings the title Infinite replayability, with the player simply having to select a level that falls around their average skill level to have a different puzzle each and every time they play.

Sometimes You have once again chosen to include two features that were criticised in our previous review. Firstly, the use of the B button as well as the + button for the pause menu, while not as disrupting as it was in Energy Invasion, is unnecessary and ruined the flow and our train of thought when accidentally pressed. The other is the lack of any real tutorial, once again opting for a “how to play” section on the games title screen. This has highlighted that this is most probably a mainstay in the company’s development practice for some of their games and something we should continue to expect in future budget releases from Sometimes You.

From initial boot, the title screen, the intro cinematic and the main gameplay, Energy balance features crisp hand-drawn artwork as is beautiful to look at. The art style is complemented perfectly with a low-key sci-fi musical score. The game features both touchscreen and controller input.

Energy Balance is a cracking game at a quality price, almost night and day from their previous Switch title. While some continuing mild annoyances still exist, it’s hard to turn our noses up at an entertaining and well put together budget title and is definitely recommended for anyone who enjoys a good puzzle in the back of the paper on the way to work.


+ Fun and addictive for puzzle fans
+ Smooth difficulty curve
+ Endless replayability
+ Beautiful hand drawn artwork
+ Super cheap price

- Pause Button on B
- Lack of Tutorial

Verdict: Very Good Job - Recommended Buy

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