Review: Powernode01 Apr 2019 0
Released 26 Feb 2019
Powernode is marketed as a "zen" puzzler, but I didn't feel very zen when I started playing. Immediately, it began to take its toll on me as I struggled in vain to make quick calculations with small numbers multiplying around me, all meant to go to various stations in need of 'charging'. It's a confusing, frustrating operation if you don't know what you're doing at first, and can turn anyone who isn't great with organizing things or making neat pathways off.
That was at first. Over the course of the time I spent with it, I found myself getting a bit better with each session. Where I began to break down with simple number puzzles, I was gradually improving and quickening my pace, creating even better energy networks than I had before.
That’s where Powernode excels: Helping you get a little bit better each time you play, even if you come into the game thinking there’s no way you could possibly be good at it.
Powernode will look immediately familiar to anyone who's ever spent modicum of time with Mini Metro, a strategy simulation game that has you designing your own subway map between train stations.
Instead of getting passengers where they need to go by way of meticulously-organized train lines, however, you're working to organize nodes, or number stations that fill with some sort of green substance when you successfully "power" them with the right sum. For instance, if you have a node marked "6" and two smaller energy crystals, we'll call them, you need to figure out a way to use both of those crystals (perhaps they're both "3" crystals) to get juice flowing to the node to satisfy its number requirements.
The diamond shapes emit pulses every few seconds that you can connect to the number stations in need of power. When the liquid has completely filled up a station, it will disappear. Of course, you're not done there. As you continue to play, your micromanagement skills will need to kick into high gear, because additional numbers will sprout up like popcorn without any regard to where you are in your thought processes or whether you’re quick enough. When enough stations “die off,” you’re screwed, and it’s game over.
Any node outside of your "network" will disappear as well, though. This makes things a bit more difficult. So if you had a 4 and a 2 node here and there creating a 6 node to power one across the map, those are now gone, as additional stations continue to pop up at random.
It becomes extremely challenging as the game ramps up. Early on, when you deal with smaller numbers, trying to get nodes together efficiently makes you feel like a champ. But as soon as things start going faster, the game can begin to stress you out considerably.
There are a few things other than the demanding gameplay that might annoy you, too. The more you rely on one node, the slower its efficiency. This forces you to continually re-evaluate how you're going to power every station without having to make some sort of complicated web that looks more like a rat's nest than power lines.
But when you lay the power lines down, there’s no way to rearrange them unless the nodes disappear. This means whatever mistakes you make, with nodes in the way of others will be there for the long haul, forcing you to stare right at your foul-ups for the rest of each session. Powernode could have used some sort of “undo” method, but I didn’t see a way to do so aside from restarting the entire game.
It's all very exciting as the game begins upping the difficulty. When you accomplish some particularly impressive feats later on, you’ll feel like an absolute genius. But if you're not good at multitasking, or it potentially frustrates or stresses you out, this is not the game for you, as it won't hold your hand in any way or offer any assistance.
If you need a puzzler that's beautifully minimalistic, numbers-based, and extremely challenging, pick up Powernode - you won't regret it.