Puzzle games range from the prescriptive – demanding very specific solutions – to organic fare like FROST. ELOH manages to straddle both camps. Although each challenge has a very fixed goal in mind, how you arrive there is akin to sculpting as you chip away towards a solution.
This approach is ideal for a game with such a meditative and groovy feel. ELOH isn’t a production that wants to smash your brains out with a brick, leaving you a crumpled, tearful mess on the floor. Instead, it has a distinctly chill-out vibe, wanting to tickle your thinky bits in a manner likely to reward and reinvigorate.
If there’s a backstory to ELOH, it’s not readily apparent. Something something jungle sounds something mask heads something is what you get, along with an ambiguous single-screen animation to introduce each selection of puzzles.
Said puzzles find you facing a grid with what appears to be one or more loudspeakers and a bunch of snoozing masks. Prod a speaker and it starts spitting out coloured blobs. You must position masks so the blobs bounce off and into receptacles of the same colour.
At first, this is very simple, but ELOH slowly adds new mechanics to the mix. Before long, you find yourself tackling scenes with multiple colours, sliding blocks, and bars that ignore or reflect blobs depending on their colour. To further complicate matters, you can’t plonk masks just anywhere – they can only sit in specific spots.
Trial and error
If you’re a puzzle-game genius, you might want to set everything up before waking the loudhailers. But for mere mortals, ELOH is a game of experimentation – a living puzzle to tweak and adjust as you fashion a solution.
The aesthetics enhance what’s already an engaging experience. Each scene starts in serene fashion, with everything asleep – all dozing masks and ambient audio. But when you work on a puzzle, balls bounce around to clockwork rhythms, and masks make endearingly goofy expressions when something collides with them.
If there’s a downside to ELOH, it’s that you can blaze through the 85 hand-crafted levels in a few hours – although it’s more rewarding to approach the game in a slower, more thoughtful manner. A free-form sandbox with shareable set-ups would have added longevity, given that the game’s part instrument anyway.
Still, for the outlay, ELOH is a smart, tactile, beautifully designed puzzler very much suited to mobile play.