Point-and-click puzzles are some of the most popular games featured here at JIG, and nobody does these types of games better than Tom Vencel for NinjaDoodle. Now he's back with the third installment of the popular ClickPLAY series, imaginatively titled... ClickPLAY 3. Like before, in each level, all you must do is click the Play button. And again, like before, that triangular button will be quite hidden, and uncovering it requires a hugely entertaining number of clicks.
The game is controlled entirely with the mouse. As said above, your goal is to discover the Play button and click it to move through each of twenty four levels. To do this, you must solve a little puzzle, explore a little environment, manipulate an environment a little, or just do a little clicking. Each level has an internal logic to itself that requires a quite satisfying "Eureka!" moment to beat. Some of them are straight puzzles, some require a little more physics action, and some just require fast mouse fingers. Your score is judged by how many times you click the mouse, but really, it's fun just to click and play.
The highlights of the previous installments of ClickPLAY series have been the jazzy music, the interesting monochromatic aesthetics and the cleverness of the puzzle. ClickPLAY 3 continues that trend on all counts. The piano-heavy background song might be my favorite accompaniment in the series so far. It's extremely bouncy and drips with cool. The fast-paced tune might not be quite appropriate for all of the screens (such as the patience-requiring fishing level), but who cares when it sounds so good? The visuals do feel a little darker this time around, or, at the very least, have a starker contrast in its use of black of white. I think it's a change for the better, like removing the grain from a remastered silent film.
Of course, the puzzles are the main focus and remain varied and high-quality, with only one or two real head-scratchers. Some of them do have a little cruder content than in the games that came before, and while far from offensive, it does feel a little incongruent with the tone the series has set so far. Also the physics-based levels feel a little wonky in the controls, especially the last level "Fling it!". It's nothing terrible, but it did force me to waste a lot of clicks on comparatively few levels. This made me think it might have been better for the game to judge performance by a timer instead.
That said, if you're not one to obsess with achieving a perfect, ClickPlay 3 is a short but sweet experience. It may only be long enough for a coffee break, but I promise you: that break will be a happy one.