Auditorium HD is more than a little bit hard to describe. This new abstract puzzler is unlike just about anything that came before it, and the results are often fantastic. Although, casual puzzle fans should be wary, because this game features some intense difficulty and a very steep learning curve.
In Auditorium HD, you attempt to control a stream of particles using tools to divert and bend them on your desired path. Your ultimate goal is to use the one stream to pass through several meters on the screen. As the meters fill up, a section of a symphony will begin to play, growing louder as the meter fills higher. Each meter represents a different part of the symphony. Sometimes a meter will be deep baritones, other times percussion or flutes.
While this theme isn't going to appeal to twitch-oriented shooter fans, those who have enjoyed some of the previous off-the-wall offerings on the PSN will find that Auditorium has a lot to enjoy. Using the orchestras as audible feedback for correct actions is a brilliant move, and it works amazingly well in the context of the game. Not only are you rewarded by seeing your puzzle get closer to completion, but you can also hear the symphonic music coming together as you work. You don't need any scores or meters to tell you that the level is almost over, you'll just know.
The only turn off to this experience is that the difficulty seems out of whack. The difficulty can get sky high at times, and elements are routinely introduced without any explanation. We're not saying that the game is necessarily “wrong” to do it this way, but many players will find this off-putting. It can take a long time to figure out exactly how some things work, and it takes a lot of experimentation to truly get it.
The difficulty is easier to swallow here than in most hard games though. There isn't really a “correct” answer to a lot of the puzzles in the game. Sometimes you just need to find an answer that works for you. Often the physics of the puzzle can be warped in such a way that new answers open up. This leads to the puzzles feeling dynamic and manageable. It eases the frustration that the puzzle genre has become infamous for.
Auditorium HD is a beautiful game in several respects. Its game design is elegant and simple, and the presentation – the combination of audio and visuals – is gorgeous. The beauty of hearing a symphony come together is rivaled only by the neon laser light show that accompanies it.
This isn't just a game about beauty like say, Fl0w or Flower, but it's also a solid puzzle game as well. While your senses are taking in the visual and audio effects, your brain will be working hard to figure out new ways to distort the playing field and achieve your goal.
Auditorium HD uses either the Move controller or the Dual Shock controller to control the playing field. We experienced no problems using the Move controls and rather enjoyed it, but other players have been reporting problems with Move calibration and control.
If you're a fan of avant-garde games like the aforementioned duo by thatgamecompany, then $10 is a small price to pay for the great experience that Cipher Prime has unleashed on console gamers. Gamers who are normally averse to puzzle games may even find that the audiovisual elements and ingenuity are enough to keep them engaged. And puzzle fans will appreciate the high difficulty level and new approach to this old genre.
Dec 13, 2010