Mercury Hg (Review)

Early PSP adopters may remember Mercury, but for everyone else, it’s time to play the definitive version, Mercury Hg. Put your red pens down the Hg is the Periodic Table of Elements name for Mercury. But yes, it’s essentially Mercury HD.

The game involves tilting the platform worlds around to roll a ball of liquid mercury around until you get it to the exit. If you get too close to the edge you’ll start to drip over the sides, depleting your life bar and size. An audio cue will let you know that you’ve been sloppy, so you don’t need to let your eyes wonder to the health metre when navigating a tricky part. Pushing Select will give you an instant restart if you’re on a mission for perfection.

Drops can also be separated by hitting objects too hard, although you can attract them back to you. Sometimes it is necessary to split into two, as you might need to take advantage of multiple sprays that change your colour to get past certain areas. For example, you will have to get one blue and one red blob, and then re-attract them to combine and become purple. Working out the colour keys isn’t hard, but keeping control of two separate blobs can be challenging. Moving surfaces and areas of high and low traction helps to mix up the experience too.

Each of the 60 levels in Discovery mode has four objectives: finish, maintain 100% health, beat the par time and collect all the icons. Perform well and you’ll get a higher score to be uploaded instantly to the leaderboard. You can also just aim for the exit in the quickest time, ignoring the other goals, for a separate time leaderboard.

Controlling an orb of liquid is surprisingly responsive and not as fiddly as it would have been if you were rolling around a solid ball. The narrower tracks do provide a stern challenge, but every challenge feels beatable and more importantly, remains fun to play.

Returning to levels to complete missed objectives will bring you back for ages. The level select screen works great for attacking these goals as it has filters for each objective type, allowing you to easily check your progress. The layout of a periodic table of elements doesn’t screen excitement, but it’s a great example of a simple design encouraging maximum replayability.

Mastering stages unlocks extra levels and modes too. Challenge mode has 10 rounds of multiple stages where you have to maintain goals. Such as, maintain 50% health, collect at least seven items and so on. The Bonus stages start you off with a small amount of Mercury with you having to collect all the vials to build yourself back up to full size before getting to the exit. Losing any drips over the side results in an instant fail. That’s 20 levels of nail biting for you right there.

The PS3 version allows players to use six-axis motion controls to tilt the world instead. Some players may remember this was going to be a feature of the original PSP game, until the motion sensor tech was cancelled for the device. It works, but you’ll have to put the practice in to be able to play it as well as you would with the analogue stick. Perhaps the PS Vita will provide a better home for motion controls in conjunction with an overhead viewpoint.

There aren’t any serious issues with the game. If I had to pick any it would be that the levels could be a bit shinier, although they’re hardly dull. The music tracklist is short and forgettable, but the game does helpfully remind you that you can play your own tunes from your consoles hard-drive.

So some relatively insignificant negative points to be honest, especially when the game is available at the very generous price of £3.99. The menus indicate that some DLC is on the way too. Same again? Yes please.

8/10

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