Huje Tower is a construction game, a member of a fairly new genre of puzzle games. If you ever owned an Erector set or Tinker Toys while growing up, these games should be right up your alley. Most construction games end up being bridge-building or tower building games. The most well-known and is no doubt the popular indie title World of Goo, and Huje Tower shares a number of similarities with it. But there are a number of differences that help Huje Tower stand on its own as a fun and challenging construction game with some puzzle elements to it.
Deep under the city, in the sewers, live millions of tiny bacteria. They spend their days swimming about in the ooze, satisfied with their lot in life. But, one day, some of the bacteria get a glimpse of the world above. The bright sun, the warm fresh air, the blue sky. Soon, all of the bacteria are longing for the world above. But how to get to the surface? The little organisms soon realize that they can organize themselves in patterns, creating towers that reach heights no bacteria had ever dreamed of. It would only be a matter of time before they would reach the sky itself!
The game starts you off building a basic tower with very basic, red-colored bacteria. They can be used to build stable structures, but they cannot be moved once they are placed in a structure, and therefore cannot be reused. They are perfect for getting the hang of proper building techniques that will be the basis of the majority of the levels you will come upon during the game. Your main goal is to build your tower high enough to reach the red goal line at the top of the playfield. If you can build a tower that is stable enough to reach above this line for 5 seconds, you will have completed the level. Levels will often have additional goals, such as waking up sleeping bacteria so that they can be used to construct your tower, or operating some sort of contraption to either release trapped bacteria or to clear the way for your tower.
You will quickly discover new types of bacteria, each with their own unique properties. The green bacteria are like the red, but can be disconnected from the structure after they have been used and reconnected to another part of the structure. Brown bacteria will connect to a single point and hang down, producing counter-weight. The yellow bacteria can latch onto certain materials creating an unbreakable bond that will withstand even the tallest tower. Black bacteria will create extremely strong structures that can withstand a great deal of pressure, and will force other objects out of the way.
There are also non-bacterial objects that you will come upon during your journey. Wheels will attach to your structure and make it mobile. The more wheels you attach in a row, the more pulling power you have. A great way to move your structure to new heights. The balloons will give your structure some added lift. Given enough of them, your structure can actually take flight. They can also be useful for keeping a particularly wobbly structure upright. Also look to the balloons to stretch your assets.
Analysis: I went into Huje Tower with a strong feeling of deja vu. It bears more than a passing resemblance to World of Goo, which one would have to guess was, in part, intentional. It definitely got me to give it a second look, if even just to see if it could live up to such an impressive pedigree.
While the mechanics of the two games are much the same, the goals end up being somewhat different. In the long run, it doesn't matter how many bacteria you loose, as long as you have enough to make your tower high enough to reach that ever important red line at the top of the playfield. Of course, you're not going to get an unlimited supply, either. If you find that you've come up short, you can always restart the level. An "undo" function is sorely missing in the game.
I could tell I was influenced by World of Goo from the start of the first level. I found it frustrating that I could not detach the red bacteria from the tower after I had begun construction, like you can in Goo. Of course, I soon realized that it was one of the properties of this particular type of bacteria, and that others would come along and change up the gameplay even more. That is one of the greatest strengths of Huje Tower. The levels really play to the different abilities of the bacteria, with some levels making it obvious which types have to be used where, and others being complex enough that it really takes some serious planning to make it through the level. Some levels become less about the tower you are building and more about finding your way through the puzzle.
One of the nice things about each level is the intro. Instead of a simple sweep across the screen showing you what you are up against, the game will zoom in temporarily on points of interest in the level. Another impressive touch is the sound design. The bacteria will randomly make funny comments on their lot in life in their little bacteria voices. There is even audio feedback when you successfully place a bacteria on the tower, which is a welcome addition.
The only real complaint that I have about the game other than some odd cursor behavior when I played it on my Mac is how the playfield scrolls. I expect it to scroll when I come to the edge of the game window, and it does, but it is too sudden and too quickly. Some sort of acceleration would have been welcome, to slowly ramp up the scroll speed as you approach the edge of the screen.
While saving bacteria may not be what everyone calls fun, you won't be able to resist the call of these little guys when you start playing Huje Tower. Get to building, and reach for the stars!