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Rating: 3.8/5 (92 votes)

DanTheArcherSaunavihtaWhile all of us, at some point or another, have forgotten our gloves at home on the day of the big snowstorm, not all of us know what it is to be truly cold. Even fewer people have had the fortune to bump into a steaming vent of natural gas on that same day, and I'm not sure anyone has, on that same day, been chased around the vent by murderous snow plows. Except maybe for some guys in Alaska. [It's true. That happened to me last week. -Ed.] If you've never before experienced said circumstances all at once, then you're in for a delectable treat from developer Spelgrim, a stylishly absurd physics puzzle ("phuzzle"?) by the name of Saunavihta.

Your mission is straightforward. A frothing geyser of black vapor lies somewhere in every level, and it's up to you to send the shivering little protagonist tumbling into the miasma. Of course, there are snowflake-slinging snowmen, those ruthless snow plows, and other frosty foes to contend with, so it won't be easy. Thankfully, the game's kind enough to tuck a decidedly useful trick up your sleeve: white objects can be disintegrated with but a single click of the mouse. As in the other members of the Tumbledrop family, you can vanish obstacles on a whim and rearrange the topography as you see fit. With a little ingenuity, you might even get those good-for-nothing snow plows to do some of the work. Take that, snow plows.

A lot of this game's appeal has to do with the style, which saturates every pixel. The art has an almost Dia de los Muertos aesthetic, crossed with doodles that the one deranged kid in your fifth grade class used to make of stick figures dismembering each other. An ominous pall looms over the entire game. When you win a level, a sinuous voice whispers "Yeeesss..." in a manner befitting a demon tempting their master to ruin. Losing a level has the voice utter "So cold..." in such a way that you genuinely feel guilty for leading the character astray. Keep in mind, this is a physics-puzzler pulling this off, which is something of a feat. The music's got that same macabre vibe that suffuses the rest of the game, so if you've been digging the sound of it so far, the soundtrack shouldn't disappoint.

There's a very satisfying gravity to the character; he/she/it is light enough to be catapulted successfully when the situation calls for it, yet dense enough not to bounce around like a superball. This creates an ideal physics-game scenario, where the puzzles involve using your gray matter instead of your twitchy trigger finger. There's elements of timing in some of the levels, to be sure, but they'll never require you to react within a fraction of a second. On the other side of the coin, many gamers might find a large number of the 25 levels relatively simple, but that doesn't detract from the game's fun factor or its darkly madcap sense of style. So if you'd like, you can go ahead and leave that pair of gloves at home today, because the sauna is open, and the fumes are feeling fine.

Play Saunavihta


Nice review, Dan! I liked your reviews from the You Are Games contest, and this one is just as good.

I'm really enjoying this game, too. Phuzzles have always been my favorite kind of game, even if they only got named a couple of days ago (I have to thank Dora for that). The only drawback here is that it's just too short. Then again, every good phuzzle seems to leave this impression on the players. Guess I'll have to wait for a sequel!

Benjamin July 29, 2009 10:16 PM

I love the man's Style. Every game this designer makes is artistically phenomenal. However, this game I found myself enjoying a little less than usual. It's kind of like a modified, extremely trippier 'Red Remover'.


We liked Dan's reviews from the contest so much, we asked him to write for us regularly. He enthusiastically accepted, and the rest is history. Well, not ancient history, but you know what I mean.

Pieter8888 July 30, 2009 2:56 AM

what a great game to play! Awesome graphics and soundtrack that goes with it. Also many puzzles I saw where very original which is becoming a rare thing in physics puzzles.

By the way:
Is JIG trying to change the name of the genre physics puzzle into Phuzzle, or phyzzle? Kinda like that.


We don't know. There are members of the JIG staff in both the phuzzle and the phyzzle camp. Which do you like better?


phyzzle vs. phuzzle
let's have a poll, let's have a poll!
Or phyzzuzzle? Phuzzyzzle?


Saunavihta, perkele.

For those that don't know, saunavihta is Finnish and means a bunch of leavy branches, that we Finns use to smack eachother in hot sauna.


My vote -> Phuzzle

Nice game but too much critical timing and not enough thinking for my tastes.

(Dropping something on top of a snowplough is also interesting. It doesn't move as you might expect!)


"Phuzzyzzle", rhyming with "fo shizzle."

This is for my G's, and this is for my gamers. This is for my gamers, and this is for my G's.

I like phuzzle better than phyzzle.


This game is too random. If you click here or there then wait ten minutes maybe eventually your little guy will find his way to the flame. Then again maybe you have to click right away and drop certain items in the way of the hazards. Often it's a matter of chance whether or not you'll succeed either way it seems.

And my vote is for "phyzzle". "Phuzzle" seems like it should be a Chewbacca puzzle. Or something to do with little forest creatures. Or perhaps something you've found under your sofa.

I like "phyzuzzle" too. :)

Czaerana July 30, 2009 11:38 PM

Yesss! Cool game. Or should I say hot? The graphics were awesome. More, please!


Level 25? Is the timing insane, or am I missing something?


for level 25

delete the circle stops the star, then the rectangle down the van just when turn to the left, and just a second before the ramp ends delete the upper right rectangle


I cannot seem to get level 15 no matter what variation I use


I only made it level 10 before I quit. There's nothing otherwise bad about the game, but it's awfully slow-paced, no?


It is kind of slow paced, but on most levels once I get things going I can put the window in the background and let the level finish rather quickly, which only really works for the earlier levels. For some reason this game and some other things I have encountered run slow when you are looking at them. Graphics or something.


That "saunavihta" on the players hand isnt right saunavihta.


You can find the walkthrough guide through the game. It seems I am not allowed to link it.


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