Puzzle Run review: so, so, so freaking cute and fun!


The running game just got an overhaul in NHN Entertainment Singapore’s newest Southeast Asia exclusive, Puzzle Run.

Puzzle Run is a color-matching puzzle/running game that tasks you with avoiding animals of the same color as you barrel along a vertical track. At any one time, you’re in control of three to five adorable little color-coded animals things, and you can either shift them from lane to lane, or line them up so that they run past a similar-colored animals.

(See: Line’s Run Run Hero review: why being linear isn’t all that bad)

You’re eased into the initially-confusing game by means of a comprehensive tutorial led by a cute little animal. The running track in Puzzle Run ranges from three to five lanes wide, and each of these lanes has an animal in it at set intervals. Running into an animal of the same color on one of the lanes halts your animal in the same lane, and the game ends when you have zero animals running. However, running alongside an animal adds it to your party and expands your reach by one lane.


The aim of each Puzzle Run game is to pick up a full set of animals so that you fill up the entire track, then keep on bashing your way through subsequent animals by not having any of the same color in your set. Successful combos—that is to say, successfully barging through a set without losing an animal—fill up a meter, which sends you into the coin-collecting fever mode.

As with all character-focused games, Puzzle Run has a variety of animals for you to collect. These range from the weird (think a purple popsicle-looking fish) to the cute (a pink pig!) and can be bought via the game’s shop. They can also be obtained, if you’re lucky, by Puzzle Run’s gashapon system, which makes use of cash and friend points earned from being social. Each Puzzle Run animal has its own unique ability that can be used to improve your score or help you escape certain death while running on the track.


Unlike most running games available on the market, Puzzle Run is not an endless runner. Instead, it has a minute-long timer that ticks down as you run. It’s tough running against the clock and trying to beat your previous high score. Although to be fair, that’s not the toughest thing in the game.

(See: Monster Grand Prix — Multiplayer Run review: lightweight little competitive runner)

What really gives Puzzle Run an edge over other running games is that you actually need to think, rather than just reacting while playing it. The time in between each new set of colored animals is short, and you have to immediately choose which color you want to swap your team into in order not to break your combo. This, plus the timer, make Puzzle Run one deceptively challenging game.

Interestingly enough, Puzzle Run shares a lot of visual and aural similarities with Line games. It both looks and sounds incredibly cute, while random unintelligible outbursts from characters plus a sleek interface with a tendency towards round corners and fonts make the game look like it wouldn’t be out of place in Line’s publishing catalog. It just has its own kooky lineup of animals rather than Cony, Brown, and friends. But seeing as how Puzzle Run was developed by South Korea’s Qoolly Inc., its similarity to a Line game comes as no surprise.

Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam will be the first countries in the world to get a taste of Puzzle Run starting today. Puzzle Run is published by NHN Entertainment Singapore for Android only.

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