“EcoBalance” is a puzzle game that sets the player to explore different worlds using a bizarre evolution chain. To unlock new stages and planets you match a group of four or more specimens and evolve them into the next stage in their evolution, which goes into the order of Sun, Flower, Caterpillar, Bird, and Human. There are no bird people in the game so no Prince Vultan, unfortunately.
Each stage has a grid to move the specimens on, but there has to be a clear path to move them from point to point. If there are too many obstacles in the way, then it’s not moving from its place. More specimens will land onto the stage if you move without evolving anything, which can either help give or hinder you depending on where they land. When you finally group four-plus humans together they’ll jump into a space ship and boldly unlock the next stage, though there’s a chance liftoff could damage the cell they merged on.
As you evolve specimens, you earn points for your score and total score (for the leaderboard), which the aforementioned is converted into ECoins after a liftoff. These coins can be used to buy Helpers such as the Hunter to destroy a specimen, a Scientist for cloning, or someone to engineer a virus to wipe out an entire species. The conversion rate for Score to ECoins increases as you unlock new stages, and hopefully you can rack up enough points because you will need all the coins you can get.
There are several events that (despite to keep the game challenging) will undermine your progress before you know it. The obvious event is a Game Over when the stage is overpopulated with no chances to match. Rest includes Earthquakes that scatters everything, Tornadoes that suck up specimens, UFOs that abducts and swaps Humans for disguised aliens, and Meteors that can break a cell (which restores itself after a long period) with any specimen in it. The Meteors only come one at a time but when the Armageddon Warning goes off you may be bombarded, leaving you with multiple damaged cells.
Furthermore, to top it all off, there is a snake that will block off connections between cells. The events may be devastating but there could be a chance to recover. The snake, however, will always get in your way in multiple angles, causing unwanted frustration even when you’re one specimen away from an evolution. What’s worst is that every planet has snakes on them (and the same species it looks like) so every stage has this galactic threat.
The backstory to “EcoBalance” is one of overcoming obstacles, but one look at the colorful presentation and cartoonish specimens would suggest a lighthearted tale. The characters are a goofy looking bunch while the stage backgrounds are colorful biomes (based on what planet you’re on). Each planet has differently shaped cells on their stages, having unique movement mechanics between the three. However, despite what whatever frustration that the game might give you, the music is always relaxing with each stage playing a different positive track, even when a Tornado sucked up a bunch of Humans.
“EcoBalance” is a rather hard puzzle game, but a fun one to play. There is a heavy reliance on Helpers, however, meaning you’ll need a stockpile of ECoins on hand when disaster hits. The in-game shop offers various amounts of coins for sale, the highest being $20 for fifty thousand of them. Even so, you can still play it while seldom using your ECoins, but with the evil space snake in coupled with how unforgiving the events and random specimen drops can be. It sure feels like the game is forcing you to use them.
This in turn makes the shop leans towards the Pay-To-Win model, so you either have to pay up, plug the charger in, turn on the WiFi, and watch a bunch of ads (100 ECoins per ad), or play an early stage to rack up points.
+ Fun matching puzzle game focusing on using clear paths to move
+ Colorful stages with planets using different cell designs for gameplay variation
– Snake will spread its evil across the galaxy to stop you from matching specimens
– In-game shop and gameplay aspects leans towards a Pay-To-Win model
Replay value: 3/5
Despite the tendency of how easily your progress can be undermined and with how Helpers and ECoins are set up, there is still a good puzzle game to be found in “EcoBalance”. Well, at least for as long as you have the patience for it, because then the game is worthy of a playthrough. So if you like puzzle games and have a good patience, then “EcoBalance” might just be the game for you.
Developer: Macro Games SA
Resolution: 1080 x 1920
Release date: 2018-02-09
Difficulty: Normal to Hard
Spent time: +5 hours
Average grade internationally: N/A as of writing Gamerankings.com
PEGI/ESRB age rating: PEGI7+/Everyone
Price: Free (in-game store)
Robin Ek – Editor
The Gaming Ground
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