I have a funny relationship with puzzle games. I’ve never physically sat down to play one for long periods of time. Puzzle games for me are always something I would pull up on my phone in a bar to kill time between drink orders or when all my friends go out on a smoke break and I’m left to guard the table from potential usurpers.What I’m saying is puzzle games rarely hold my attention, but for some reason early access puzzle game Tricone Lab actually managed to keep me entertained for quite a while, more than these games usually do.

In a week where Fallout 4 had been dominating my console Tricone Lab proved to be a good way to wean me off this digital crack addiction before I lost any more time to my post-apocalyptic wasteland marathon. Developed by Glasgow based dev team Partickhill Games Limited, Tricone Lab is an early access PC puzzle game that asks players to create coloured tricones inside microscopic multicellular organisms by combining coloured cones inside special cellular catalysts.

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This may sound pretty complicated but it’s actually incredibly simple once you get to grips with it.

Players are presented with several cells on screen and inside them are small objects called catalysts that you need to click and drag small coloured cones into. There are three coloured cones that are red, blue and green and when these merge inside a catalyst they create a Tricone and the level ends, simple as that.

However, to add an extra layer of difficulty to each of the 100 levels, the developers throw various obstacles in your way. These can range from additional tricone targets requiring multiple catalyst merges, cell walls to break down or other more aggressive cells.

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To destroy cell walls you will need to use special breaker cells and you’re limited to the amount of these you can have in any level. So you have to sit and seriously think several moves ahead as reckless cell wall destruction often lead to no solution or a full level restart.

But it’s not just cell walls you need to worry about because there’s also the threat of the game’s most frustrating enemy, the Anti-Catalysts.

These look similar to the catalysts cells but with one key difference, they actively grab cones and other cell parts with long tentacles preventing you from completing levels. There were several moments in this game that I thought I had the perfect solution to a puzzle only to be set back to square one by an Anti-Catalyst sucking up a component that I desperately needed.

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Fortunately there are options to undo or redo your previous actions in the game. So if you make a simple mistake you don’t always have to rest the entire game to square one, plus it allows you to mess around with various puzzles to find the best solution.

A great feature of this game is that later levels employ even more cells to help or hinder your progress in the puzzles. These new cells all have their own special abilities adding even further layers of complexity to the puzzles. This results in a slowly ramping difficulty curve that eases you into some of the harder levels plus it makes it feel more rewarding when you beat some of the game’s later levels.

There’s also the ability to go back and replay previous areas of the game that you’ve beaten which adds to the replay-ability of the game and is a great way to get back to grips with Tricone Labs should you stop playing it for an extended period of time. I genuinely enjoyed every minute I spent with Tricone Lab and the only real complaints I could possibly have is that the UI is cluttered and the colour scheme, which is mostly grey, is a tad dull. But since this is early access I’m sure it could be sorted out with a patch or two from the developers further down the line.

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As I said at the beginning of this review I’m not normally one for puzzle games, but after a couple of hours  Tricone Lab has managed to swing my attention back to this rather neglected genre.

You can pick up Tricone Lab on PC through Steam’s Early Access programme and I personally think you should give this game a try.

About The Author

Contributor

A self-described child of the 90s, Matt is obsessed with everything nerdy in that era from Transformers to G.I Joe. Found inside a bargain bin of Doctor Who DVD's, he was quickly adopted by the Indie Haven team and tasked with writing humorous articles.

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