Do you remember Andreas Von Lepel’s level-rotating puzzle-game Freeze!, a game starring an alien eye-thing — tasked with escaping from freely rotating levels — whose only notable power was the ability to negate gravity? Thankfully — assuming you just answered yes — you’ll likely be glad to hear that Freeze!’s developers finally produced a sequel, and it has more levels — more gimmicks — as well as some rather mesmerizing water effects. On the other hand, assuming you haven’t yet played the classic original, I can safely say that anyone searching for tons of physics-based puzzling bliss will probably also adore Freeze! 2: Brothers (out now, $1.99).

screen480x480Although the mechanics of this game should be readily apparent to anyone whom already played the original, I should probably break everything down for those new to this black-and-white hued party. Your goal in Freeze! 2 is to guide a floating alien eye-thing — of which this time around there are two per level, hence the subtitle — to the stage’s exit, which will sometimes require you to first activate a variety of switches. The catch is that every door/switch will only be usable by one of your two brothers, with the required brother determined by which one features gear-teeth matching the object in question.

Further complicating things — however — is that you don’t have any direct control over where either of the two aliens go rolling about, with their movements instead being entirely victim to the cruel whims of physics and gravity. That said — although you can’t directly move either of the two eye-aliens — you may freely rotate the environment itself, with gravity afterwards affecting anything not bolted directly to the scenery. You may do this by sliding a single finger across your iDevice’s screen, which in turn lets you freely rotate most of Freeze! 2’s stages in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction.

Of course merely spinning the stage around will usually get you nowhere fast, and sometimes it’ll even get your balloon-esque alien brothers popped against viciously sharp pointy-things. For these times you’ll have access to the game’s titular Freeze button, which enables you to halt the effects of gravity upon a specific brother (during which time the level can still be rotated, and gravity will still affect everything else normally). That said, each of these gravity-halting buttons — whom will identify which alien they’re for by their gear-teeth design — will have a level-specific limited number of uses available (and this number isn’t necessarily always the same for each of the two brothers either).

screen480x480 (1)All of this so far — minus the simultaneous two character aspect — would already give you a fairly accurate depiction of the tribulations that players regularly faced back during the original Freeze!, but the new Freeze! 2: Brothers is more than just some mere level pack. One of these new updates — beyond a bounty of various new widgets to interact with — would be the fact that every fifth level is automatically rotating, with the player themself having no direct rotational control. On these levels the player will have only their wits, plus the alien-specific freeze buttons, at their immediate disposal (although the direction of the level’s rotation may additionally be modified by bumping into special switches).

The biggest of these new additions would definitely have to be Freeze! 2’s dynamic water — featuring real-time liquid physics — which furthermore manages to actually look like proper flowing water (as opposed to Blowfish Rescue’s ‘noxious gas’, for instance). Likely the first thing you’ll discover about these raging-fluids is that your alien eye-things are clearly filled with air, seeing as how they begin floating — rather than sinking with gravity — whenever they touch the stuff. Thankfully — although your aliens are normally buffeted about — the mighty freeze button does make them immune to these tempestuous-fluids, which is a rather lucky fact you’ll often need to cleverly exploit.

Another major new addition comes about during the game’s second world — of which there are four in total, each having 25 different levels — wherein the player is introduced to Portal esque gateways. Here — much the same as with Valve’s classic — the speed and angle at which a portal is entered is stringently maintained, which means clever freezing and stage-rotating will both be needed in order to ensure ideal portal entry. Further complicating this is that these stages will require players to gather up a bunch of scattered rocket parts before they can leave (each of which must be picked up by the correct alien).

screen480x480 (2)Other new mechanical inclusions involve perilous laser beams, poisonous water hazards (that you definitely don’t want to be floating in), and a plethora of other malicious dilemmas to complicate the brothers’ dire mission to successfully return home together. Thankfully — with the plethora of things that can often go wrong — there is no lives system to tackle with in Freeze! 2: Brothers, with levels immediately restarting whenever one of the two alien brothers leaves their mortal coil behind. You can furthermore manually invoke a restart should you either run out of Freezes, or somehow manage to put the stage into a state from which you can no longer win anymore (yet not explicitly die either).

Unfortunately — unlike Freeze!’s first outing — this time you won’t have an online guide with videos displaying how to safely bypass these various dangers, as that apparently made things too easy. However — fret not — for the developers don’t intend to sup upon your tears should you become perpetually flummoxed by a particularly vexing puzzle, for you’ll be given the option to skip past a stage entirely after suffering a solid ten failures. Of course choosing to do so will mark your completion time as eleven minutes and eleven seconds, which — in a game where your finishing time is literally everything — certainly becomes quite the incentive to eventually go back and genuinely do it yourself.

As previously stated, all of this combines to form a game — chock full of level-spinning bliss — that’s pretty much guaranteed to please both returning players and fan of physics-based puzzlers in general. I furthermore repeat that the physics-based water-simulation effects must be seen to be believed, with the liquids behaving utterly fluidly as you spin and twist the game’s various stages to and fro. About the only disappointing aspect to Freeze! 2: Brothers would have to be the game’s black and white visuals, which largely help to ensure that the game’s highly detailed background vistas usually go unnoticed.

Verdict

Freeze 2!: Brothers is a feature-expanded sequel that’s sure to please everyone whom already enjoyed Andreas Von Lepel’s previous release of Freeze!, as well as anyone else whom just really likes physics-based puzzle games. Players are tasked with getting two aliens — whom both look like floating eyes — safely to the end of each level, except they’re only allowed to indirectly move these aliens around by rotating the entire stage (as well as temporarily halting gravity’s power). The game is furthermore blessed with some of the most amazing physics-based water simulation effects you will ever behold, wherein the freely sloshing-liquids always behave in the most utterly-fluid ways possible (unlike Blowfish Rescue).

A novel puzzle game of freezable gravity, rotating levels, and mesmerizing water
Although the black and white visuals are very detailed, they often blend together
4.5