Cool ideas are abound in this puzzle game but a slow pace drags it down.
For some puzzle games, I look for a really specific blend of calming zen and brain-teasing challenge. While I’m fine with rocking a barebones Picross-style game, aesthetics can be everything for my preferred peaceful puzzle playing. Swim Out from Lozange Lab nails the chill, relaxing style but doesn’t come together to make something that stuck with me. To summarize, Swim Out wasn’t a puzzler that entered my dreams as so many great ones have over the years. This game never grabbed me longer than the time spent with it.
The presentation is genuinely great, though. Each puzzle takes place in a pool, complete with swimmer obstacles. The pool is split into a grid, and each move you make constitutes a turn and all other swimmers move according to a set pattern in concert with you. The challenge is to get out of the other side of the pool while never occupying the same square as another swimmer. Proper planning is required, as it clever usage of a slew of mechanics, ranging from stunning beach balls to boogie boards. Over the course of seven chapters, a wide variety of ideas are introduced, with different swimmers and divers of all styles that interact with buoys, kayaks, crabs, and more for more peaceful chaos.
The environment is serene, actually probably unlike the community pools it’s based on. Watery sounds pervade the slow, pensieve music, giving the whole experience a grand sense of place. With how pleasant this whole game is, it’s a shame the puzzles are slow and plodding.
Swim Out is billed as “turn-based puzzle game,” but the turns all have a small hitch to them. This becomes especially problematic when trying to figure out harder difficulties. No rewind feature is present; instead, you have to do it all in one go. Redoing past portions isn’t seamless. Your movements all require the obstacles responding, so you can’t quickly zoom through the grid spaces. You can try to be quick, but because the delay is there, it’s way too easy to overshoot your movement.
While cool concepts and ideas are awash throughout Swim Out, the dawdling pace of the 100+ puzzles drowns the more novel ideas. This is, for better or worse, an alright puzzle game that just happens to be in a sea of better ones. Good for a laidback romp, but not for much else.