STAFF REVIEW of One Hundred Ways (Xbox One)

Tuesday, November 8, 2016.
by Adam Dileva

One Hundred Ways Box art The ID@Xbox program has been wonderful at giving developers and small studios alike an outlet to bring their games to a new audience, and of course gamers get a slew of new games to play that were previously exclusive to PC, mobile, or other platforms. Sometimes this works beautifully as console gamers get to experience games that wouldn’t have been possible before, but other times the market can get flooded with titles that don’t really suit the console experience. Where does One Hundred Ways fall in this spectrum? Let’s find out.

One Hundred Ways is a puzzle game at heart, devoid of any real story, as you’re simply tasked with solving puzzles that range from incredibly simplistic to frustratingly difficult. There’s a marble that will start rolling down a ramp when you start, and you’re tasked with placing specific objects on a grid so that the marble can reach each level’s end goal. Oddly enough, there’s well over one hundred levels, so the name is a little confusing, but alas, expect many levels including some that can be completed in more than one way.

At the beginning of each level there’s a cute little robot that generally tries to give you some advice for the challenge ahead of you. Sometimes his advice is helpful, while other times his text is garbled (purposely), making some of these ‘intros’ feel completely useless. The hints don’t generally tell you what to specifically do as they are more of a generic “think of a different way to solve this one!” kind of clue. Not helpful at all.

Now, I completely understand that Sunlight Games isn’t a natively English speaking developer, but it looks really unprofessional when the game has numerous spelling mistakes, poor grammar, and misworded sentences. Sometimes letters aren’t capitalized, or spaces are missing, but it’s clear that there’s been little to no priority at localization for English speaking gamers.

You learn the game’s mechanics in the early stages, slowly learning about each type of object and how they interact with your rolling ball. There’s essentially only a handful of items and objects, but they are used over and over during the 100+ levels. A great puzzle game gives you the tools you need to solve each puzzle quickly if you’re up to the task, but in One Hundred Ways you’re forced to slog through its confusing menu system and watch in agony as you wait for the level to finish completing without the use of a fast forward.

You are given objects such as teleport pads, speed ramps, bounce pads, redirection launchers, rubber fences, and more. Your ball will roll in a direct line at a set and constant speed, which is where object placement is critical to get it from point A to B. While initially One Hundred Ways looks like a physics based puzzler, it’s really not, as your ball will roll forever if unobstructed and allowed to keep going. The beginning 50 levels or so weren't much of a challenge, especially if you think logically and just reverse engineer the solution, starting at the finish point. Eventually you’ll become stumped as there’s seemingly no smooth difficulty curve; you’ll simply hit a brick wall of challenges after completing other levels without issue.

Given that you’re simply staring at a grid for hours, going from puzzle to puzzle, you’d hope that there would be a varied soundtrack to help pass the time, either with some upbeat tracks or some relaxing tunes to set the mood. Unfortunately that is not the case here as there’s only a single song during the whole time you play across every single level. Making things worse, there’s absolutely zero audio when you’re on the world map selection (choosing which stages to play), making for a very disjointed experience. Do yourself a favor and load up some of your own music, as you’re going to not want to hear the solitary tune from One Hundred Ways after a handful of levels ever again.

It may seem like I’m simply only pointing out the negatives, but there are so many that needs to be mentioned. For example, there’s no way to rotate the map, so when you’re on a puzzle that’s very crowded with numerous tubes, cranes, and other objects, you can’t easily see which tile your placing your object on or the direction you’re intending for your jumper objects. There’s also no speed up or fast forward option. So, if you know you’ve solved the puzzle you need to wait until the ball slowly runs the course from start to finish.

Some of the pieces you’re given are also complete guesswork on how fast they will speed up your ball or how far it will launch it, simply leaving you to waste time experimenting rather than strategizing. Some puzzles also seem like they need to be solved ‘wrong’, such as launching backwards over the starting ramp, instead of a clear path elsewhere. Maybe this is part of the intended design, but you’re not given any information to figure it out and are left to just experiment with what works and doesn’t.

It’s obvious that One Hundred Ways was built for a mobile device or a PC with a mouse, as the control scheme is incredibly frustrating with a controller. Even after more than a handful of hours with the game I was constantly pressing the wrong buttons, or hoping that the camera would magically start to follow the ball when it was in motion. The grid system isn’t very responsive either, and placing an object from your inventory takes more button presses than it should.

I’m all for small developers and studios having opportunities for their games to be brought to as many gamers as possible, but there’s an effort that needs to be taken to make sure that it’s a right fit for that audience. One Hundred Ways is a serviceable game, but it’s meant to be played in very short bursts on the go, not for hours on end enduring a repeated song while trying to relax on your couch with a controller. Don’t go in hoping for a Marble Madness physics puzzle game like I was either as you'll be disappointed. I’m normally head over heels for puzzle games, but there’s simply too much against One Hundred Ways to earn a heartfelt recommendation at its current price point and jarring issues.

Overall: 3.5 / 10
Gameplay: 3.0 / 10
Visuals: 4.0 / 10
Sound: 1.0 / 10


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