Chuck’s Challenge 3D Review – I’m Bad at Puzzles

Hello and welcome to another episode of Chaz Reviewing Games He’s Not Good At! Today I’m tackling Chuck’s Challenge 3D, which I played on PC via Desura; it’s also available for Mac, Linux, and Android, devices. The premise of it is simple – you control Woop, a strange purple creature, navigating through increasingly-difficult puzzles designed by Chuck, a game-designing human pulled away from a relaxing vacation by Woop to design puzzles. There’s some basic story elements there, but they’re mostly unimportant to play.

The objective of each level of Chuck’s Challenge 3D is the same as most other puzzle games; navigate through whatever obstacles are in your path to the exit. Your progress through each level is timed and evaluated for number of moves taken to reach the end. Along the way, Woop encounters boxes, switches, environmental hazards, and enemies to make the journey difficult. Some levels are as simple as moving a couple of boxes onto similarly-colored switches to open the way, and others are complex timing-based enemy-dodging or obstacle passage types. The game opens with a ‘bundle’ of 25 levels, getting more difficult with each new challenge. These levels introduce all of the basics of boxes. switches, enemies, and so forth, including a few power-ups that Woop can pick up to navigate certain hazards, such as magnets to traverse conveyor belts and spiked rollers for easy movement across slippery ice.

Chuck's Challenge 3D early powerup level

This simple level uses locked blocks to keep Woop from the magnet powerup needed to walk up the conveyor belt pushing away from the exit.

As you progress, you encounter more dangerous environments and situations that can lead to Woop’s inability to complete a level or even die. Woop’s not without a trick up his sleeve, though, and can reverse time itself, one move at a time, to go back to safety or prevent a defeating move from having happened. This mechanic is a bit limited in usefulness, and often I found myself simply restarting a level rather than skipping back, but it does have its uses if you make a mistake in a longer level, or just need to try something else to see if it works better. Unfortunately, the time-reversal also doesn’t affect the play clock, so skipping back still costs you valuable time that can lower your rank on any given level. Each stage offer bronze, silver, or gold medals for completion, and ranks your performance against others who’ve completed it.

The further I got into this cute, fun little puzzler, the more I remembered a fundamental fact that I’d forgotten going in: I’m not terribly good at puzzles. After making it through the first bundle of 25 levels without much difficulty, I tried my hand and the more complicated ones that open up. Here, I found myself running into more than one level that I ended up giving up on before trying something else – to the game’s credit, though, not all of the levels are unlocked in a strictly linear fashion, so there’s more than enough other open levels at any given time for the player to try out if they get stuck on one that’s proving too tough.

Chuck's Challenge 3D environmental hazards/

This small but packed-full level shows off several environmental hazards, and shows how enemies, such as the one on the left, can interact with switches. Here, the switch controls the pillars blocking the exit, so timing is key for sliding across the ice while they’re open.

In addition to the bundles packaged in with the game itself, there’s a pretty open creation mode that allows players to make their own puzzles and share them with the world. You’re given pretty free reign over how to design the levels, and these are searchable by top-rated, most recent, personal creations, or by specific level ID, used for sharing with your friends. I’m not creative enough to come up with anything that manages to be both challenging and possible to complete, but I tooled around with it a bit just to test it out, and the editor is pretty intuitive and easy to use. I picked up a couple of the top-rated levels from others, as well, and they’re a great addition to the game’s built-in challenges – and, at times, a welcome respite from the harder puzzles I ran up against and couldn’t get through.

Chuck's Challenge 3D Create Mode

The basic level editor provides height/width adjustment, two columns of item creation, and a plain field to manipulate; the zoom features are great, and there’s a play button so you can test your level prior to putting it out in the wild.

All in all, even though I’m not a great puzzle-gamer, the simple, cute graphics and variety of puzzles available provided more than enough for me to keep coming back. I’m determined to make it through at least two of the additional level bundles and to rack up some decent ranking on the ones I’ve been through. One important note, though: if you want a custom player name, be sure to set this up first. I didn’t, and I lost all my progress through the game when I did register a name, so now I’m faced with going back through puzzles I’d already completed. A minor annoyance, but it could be very frustrating for those who’ve made significant progress.

Final Breakdown

[+Cute graphics] [+Easy to learn gameplay] [+Great variety of puzzle elements] [+Player-created puzzles] [-Timing-based puzzles can be frustrating]

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