Fix road review


Some games offer abstract titles that don’t fully explain the scope of the tasks you’ll need to complete to reach the end. Please Fix The Road doesn’t have that problem. As you play through 160 miniature puzzles, each one simply asks you to do exactly what the game’s title says: fix a road, path, sidewalk, or river so that vehicles and animals can reach their destination. But despite the elementary premise and casual demeanor, creator Arielek doesn’t lack for clever twists on the core concept, and in the process made me wonder what challenges I’d be facing.

Each puzzle presents a miniature, beautifully rendered plot of land with at least one broken road. The bottom left corner is marked with the moves you need to make to solve the puzzle. While I initially found this dictation of moves in a specific order to be limiting and at odds with the more free-form experience I was expecting, it ultimately pushed me toward some incredibly satisfying moments, as I likely solved the puzzle exactly as the creator intended. It also provides breadcrumbs toward the solution; I often wondered why a level required a specific move, only to find out I was missing an critical aspect of the puzzle.

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What starts out as a puzzle game where you simply place the provided tiles where they logically fit quickly turns into one where you have to blast, rearrange, swap, copy, and rotate entire blocks of dirt to get characters from point A to point B. Problems can usually be solved in a matter of minutes; some solutions I found immediately. Others had me staring at them for minutes at a time, trying different solutions. As I got to puzzles numbered in the 80s, 90s, and hundreds, that element of trial and error came into play as the developer threw more and more complicated puzzles at me.

Fortunately, because the action unfolds step by step, Please Fix The Road gives players an undo button that rewinds to the last action you took. This is especially helpful when experimenting. Sometimes when I get stuck, I like to utilize the hint button, which gives out step-by-step instructions but not full solutions; if I get stuck on a particular step, I can get a hint from the developers about the correct first move I should make. This is helpful even if the game simply doesn’t play itself, even when it makes the early moves for you.

It’s a bit frustrating that the clues are played in sequential order, regardless of what correct moves I’ve already made; it doesn’t matter if I made the first three moves correctly; the clue mechanic will undo all my moves and show me the first move I’ve already made to get the first clue. Fortunately, I relied solely on my own puzzle-solving skills for the extensive majority of the time. Some of the puzzles later in the game left me staring in amazement at what my first move should have been, which can be frustrating but ultimately satisfying once I cracked the code.

The levels are not only well-balanced, they are well-laid out. For every level that took me longer than usual, an easier puzzle would often appear just around the corner to support me rebuild my confidence. This constant ebb and flow kept me on my toes without killing the momentum I was building as I solved the many challenges. Completing each puzzle is made even more satisfying by the fun animations that accompany each solution; from the charming art style, relaxing soundscapes, and beautifully animated transitions between puzzles, Please Fix The Road’s minimalist design conventions work wonders on the senses.

While the gimmick eventually loses its appeal, and the complexity sometimes overwhelms the elementary concept by the time we get to triple-digit puzzles, Please Fix The Road shows that creativity and imaginative puzzle design are more critical than a solid toolbox or extensive player freedom. The game offers a tight, carefully crafted puzzle-solving experience that engages from the very first puzzle and, with ever-evolving mechanics, delivers satisfaction at every turn.

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