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Downstream Panic review

There's nothing fishy about this intelligent puzzler


  • Addictive puzzle solving
  • Highly satisfying outcomes
  • Fresh
  • colorful visuals


  • Can be incredibly frustrating
  • It's a bit thin on modes
  • Music = cuteness explosion

We've supposedly increased our mental acuity with Brain Age (and every knockoff under the sun), yet we still had our minds melted by the vast majority of Downstream Panic! It's a nearly brilliant (and obscenely adorable) blend of puzzle solving, strategic item usage, and Rube Goldberg-like mechanisms.

Like classic puzzler Lemmings before it, Downstream Panic! challenges you to manipulate the environment to guide small critters to safety, and in this case, the convoluted back-story shines the spotlight on fish swept up by a mighty hurricane. As a stream of 100 such cold-blooded carp flows from the top of the screen, you must use bombs, plants, clouds, fans, portals, and several other entirely unrelated items to reroute the water towards the ocean below. Just avoid the massive sharks.

It sounds like a simple enough task - and for the first 15 or so stages (of 80), it generally is. But with increasingly devious level designs and a limited amount of tools in each stage, Downstream Panic! becomes an absolute head-scratcher, and will undoubtedly drive short-tempered players away with its sharp learning curve and high potential for frustration.

Some terribly complex-looking stages had us sweating before the fish even started to fall, and it's rarely a matter of overcoming each obstacle as you reach it - you'll typically scroll around the entire map, slowly piecing together the proper chain of events to save a set amount of fish (between 50 and 95) and move on to the next stage.

More Info

DescriptionDownstream Panic takes the Lemmings formula, dunks it in water, and forces you to guide the stream of displaced fish back to their ocean home by clearing a path with bombs, plants, and other odd tools.
US censor ratingEveryone 10+
Release date5 February 2008 (US), (UK)


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