Thursday, September 1, 2016

Balance, an android puzzler about electrical grids

Grade: C
Platform: Android, IOS
Genre: Resource flow puzzle
Play Store: Free
Apple Store: Free
In App Purchases: None at all!
Released: 2016

Developed by Statnett, the company responsible for managing Norway's electrical grid, as a sort of plug (heh) for their company, Balance is surprisingly fun.

The puzzles center around using the minimum number of components to link together an electrical grid which can withstand everything from damaged lines to irregular supply from rewnweables. 

The graphics are simplistic but pleasant enough to look at and do the necessary job of showing what each element can do.   The blue grid of the landscape is filled with angular mountains, power lines that can carry 2, 4, or 6 units of power each, and perfectly circular cities that need 2, 4, or 6 units of power in order to operate.

Unlike most games of this nature, where the main challenge is in establishing pathways for your resource to travel along, in Balance that's often the easiest part. Once you've built your grid and powered it so every city is happy, you must keep everybody happy as disasters begin to hit the grid. 

A line inches across the top of the screen, indicating how long you have to keep things going before victory, and at various points along the line little ? cards show an event that will throw things into chaos.  If you built your grid wrong, no amount of jiggling power supplies or on the fly changes can help you.  If you built your grid right in the early stages it might keep working without any intervention on your part, but in the later levels you will need to rebalance the output on your generators at the very least.

Like the best sort of puzzle games, the elements are simple, the way they interact is clearly defined, and it'll drive you mad because you're certain that there is simply no possible way to make it work in this damn level and surely they made a mistake and their playtesters missed it, right?

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