Robots. The bane of our existence! It's time to get rid of those immobile, block-like things that do nothing but sit there, mocking us with their smug, yellow-eyed looks of supremacy! In the unassuming little puzzle game from Sergei Gainullin, Pusher, you play a little guy who takes hairstyling tips from The Beatles and has the power to rid the world of robots, one sliding block at a time!
Pusher is a lot like Orbox B meeting a sokoban puzzle game, combining elements of both in a very interesting way. You can't touch the robots directly, as they're charged with an electric field (they would, those mechanical menaces), but you can grab certain blocks and charge at them with all your might. You can slide around the world by using the [arrow] keys or [WASD], but each time you move, you stay in motion until you run into a wall. When you're next to a movable block, tap the [spacebar] to put your little paws on it, then slide around just like before. Crash into all the robots to clear the level and move on to the next!
Grabbing blocks changes the gameplay of Pusher enormously. For starters, it alters your shape, making you unable to fit through some spaces but allowing you to stop at new locations so you can access other parts of the screen. You can nab a block, slide around, then let go to hit places you couldn't dream of visiting before. Secondly, blocks protect you from danger, stopping lasers in their tracks and landing on spikes like they're made out of feathers. So, in other words, Pusher teaches us that robots are evil and non-sentient blocks are good!
There are a total of 40 levels, but the difficulty doesn't really start to set in until you reach level 15 or so. Then, you can see the brilliance in which Pusher's puzzles have been crafted, forcing you to think in new ways while incorporating tricks you learned in the stages before. New obstacles are also introduced, including breakable bricks, blocks that fade in and out of existence, and more. There's a lot going on in these puzzles, plenty to keep you interested the whole way through.
Analysis: Pusher features basic gameplay elements from puzzle genres we're all quite familiar with. That makes it an easy game to hop right in and start playing. The difficulty curve encourages just that, and you really don't have to dissect the game's inner workings until you've completed a dozen or so levels. Then, however, it's time to get serious and put your block pushing skills to the test.
Scoring is based on the number of moves you take to complete each stage. The fewer, obviously, the better. You can restart levels by tapping the [R] key, a feature you'll utilize far more often than you'll admit to your friends. You can be surprisingly economical with your movements when you put your mind to it, but there's nothing stopping you from experimenting with block positions and moving around as much as you like.
Pusher is an unassuming game with a simple visual presentation and music right out of the Cheery Music for Flash Games class. Don't let that lack of originality turn you away, though, as there's a lengthy, challenging, and unique puzzle experience to be had with this title!