It would be so easy to reference Marble Madness because of the basic idea of rolling a metal ‘ball’ around mazes, while it does have that similarity, the first thought that popped into my head when starting the game was Breaking Bad.
The stages and levels are based on the elemental table, as usual you start with Group 1 which is the tutorial level where each stage introduces you to the different aspects of the gameplay, typical stuff. Once the batch of tuts are done, then the proper levels open up that require you to put your newly obtained skills to the test.
Opening up new groups is no easy task, once each level is complete, points are earned which go towards a total needed to unlock the next group. Points are determined by how quick you complete the level and how much mercury you have at the end, because as you traverse your way through the level, there’s a possibility of losing drops of mercury over the edge and that affects how many points are awarded. Your time and scores are uploaded to the leaderboard and you can see where you stand, although, if there are multiple players with the same time, it doesn’t count you all as equal and you just get added to the end of the list.
While there are only five groups to start with, don’t be fooled into thinking you can just blast through them. Yeah, if you don’t care about getting good times and scores, then go for it by zipping through the game, but then you’re denying yourself the full enjoyment to be had. Once you complete certain levels, you open up challenges and bonus levels which adds even more gameplay, just when you thought there wasn’t anymore eh!
Bonus levels are the ones that have you sliding around the level to collect vials of mercury, but lose just one molecule and it’s game over, meaning you can either ragequit or retry. Challenges and bonus levels don’t count towards the points needed to unlock the other groups, but you are still added to a leaderboard to record your efforts.
While screenshots and video may make it appear to be very colourful, it’s actually qute subtle with nice, simple graphics that give a solid feel to the game, even if the only ‘solid’ parts are the platforms and obstacles. It’s not like it’s the most intensive game due to its simplicity as the best and most important feature of Mercury Hg is pure gameplay. Don’t be fooled, underneath it’s simplistic demeanor is a nugget bursting with a flavoursome gem waiting to be unwrapped and enveloped into your mind.
The option to use your own music is a nice touch, imagine your favourite tracks providing pulsing platforms to help you further enjoy the game and maybe give you that incentive to beat previous scores and reach higher on the leaderboards, yeah, that can happen! If you want to know if it’s worth 499 of your English pennies (or 400 Microsoft Points), then yes, there are two lots of downloadable content on the way which will extend the game even more.
One downloadable content pack will be based on Heavy Elements and should be the first, then a second pack featuring Rare Earth Elements should become available some time later. Both packs will contain 30 levels each, with 60 levels already in the base game, that will take you to a total of 120 levels, LOADS to play and keep going back to.