Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink! Actually, that couldn't be any more inaccurate here. In I-Fluid by Exkee, you are a drop of water, and your task is to navigate an intricate 3D world of a kitchenette that seems to be rather devoid of water. With the outward appearance of a platformer but the heart of a phuzzler, I-Fluid boasts an incredibly realistic atmosphere and a solid set of challenges to go with it.
To move your drop around, use the [WASD] or [arrow] keys to move in the cardinal directions, while using the mouse to adjust the camera angle. In later levels, you gain the ability to jump and double-jump ([left click]), stick to objects and climb up walls ([right click]), and even embody certain objects and control them (hold both mouse buttons). Gaining these new skills not only lets you beat each new level that comes along, but also lets you access previously-unreachable levels in the level select screen.
In some cases, your goal is to reach the end of the level and tag a special flag. Other levels have specific requirements, like knocking nuts off of their perches, rolling all of the tomatoes into fondue dishes, or knocking over a tower of sushi. Once you've completed the Mission mode for a level, you can then go back and try the Petals mode, in which you must find five flower petals scattered across the level, or go for the Time Attack mode, where you have a tight time limit to accomplish a certain task.
I-nalysis: (See what I did there?) If you're looking for a unique platformer bursting at the seams with realistic graphics and fast-paced precision gameplay, you can't go wrong with I-Fluid. It might lack a compelling plot, but there's plenty of draw to this game. You might be asking yourself, why water? Why not play as a really tiny man crawling his way around these huge objects trying to reach the end of the level? That could work, but you really miss out on feeling really, really small. Playing as a little man in a big world means you're just a smaller you, but playing as a single drop of water, barely anything unless in a cup with thousands of other drops to drink, or just a single unit of rain in a storm of billions, that's being small. The truest sense of being tiny hits home in a level where getting to the end means you depend on the light of a firefly to guide your way.
The premise is compelling, the gameplay itself nothing less than interesting, but in such a gorgeous world, there are some drawbacks which could effect how you feel about the game. First, the controls can be somewhat difficult to get used to. Depending on your size and the slope/material of the surface you're traveling along, you could rush along at ridiculous speeds or practically crawl through the level. Using both the mouse and the keys to control your direction can feel slightly awkward, but then again, this comment is coming from someone who's played too much Team Fortress 2 and is used to a slightly different control scheme for a similar perspective. And speaking of perspective, the camera often has some strange behavior, such as zooming in or out at awkward times and sticking inside solid objects.
The other major drawback is an uncomfortably familiar one when it comes to platformers like these. The hit detection in I-Fluid can instantaneously disappear in certain cases, then reappear in a similarly haphazard fashion, but by this point, you've already found yourself trapped somewhere that you don't want to be. The most frequent offender of this offense is the potholders made of slats of stone. It's very easy to fall down in between the slats and get stuck, forcing you to restart the level.
While I'm here, I'd like to point out something about cockroaches. Yes, cockroaches. In level 13, you'll encounter the thirsty little buggers who will chase you around and try to drink you. (Again, another example of feeling what it's like to be small.) They will mull around in a fairly rigid pattern until you come within a certain range and they begin to give chase. But when they do give chase, they are relentless, and are suddenly much more agile than before. They can also change the landscape you're playing on, unintentionally making levels impassible. Not exactly fair!
Cockroaches aren't the only thing that can trap you in a level, which is frustrating, to be sure, but it also speaks to the credit of the intricacy of the objects and how well they were designed. Rather than blocky objects that create odd sculptures when they fall, muffin tins fit nicely into one another, tomatoes and potatoes roll like the imperfect spheres that they are, and falling sugar cubes become a visual (although deadly) delight. A lot of work went into making the physics of this game feel as realistic as possible, and if you're willing to forgive the occasional hit-detection error, this game is thrilling in ways that other physics games can't compare to.