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Fluid SE Review: Frustrating, but good fun

A puzzle racer that tests your patience as well as your hand-eye coordination.

In Fluid SE, you guide Streak – a speedy black fish, round a series of courses looking to pick up orbs and beat the time limit needed to unlock further levels. Sounds easy right? Well, Fluid SE has more than a few tricks up its sleeve to keep you on your toes (fish don’t have toes, but you get the idea).

Once you’ve collected an orb, it regenerates as an evil red blob (a specter) that follows you around the track and destroys you upon contact. Charming. So all may be well as you zoom off to the far corner of the map, but as you return to collect the last few spoils you become overrun with specters and this is where tactics come into play.

Meet Streak, a speedy black fish. Not the cutest character.

Meet Streak, a speedy black fish. Not the cutest character.

To overcome the oncoming hordes of specters, you’ll find an arsenal of power ups dotted around selected tracks including teleportation gates, speed boosts and spinning vortexes that hinder your enemies advances. You must decide when to use these to save the most time and it’s not always as straightforward. For example, one power up makes you invincible but halves your speed.

Your first effort at each level is always a bit of an exploration session, trying to work out where the power ups lie and the best way around the maze. You may be constantly reminded of this top down games ancestry with comparisons to Pac Man and Snake, but there is more to Fluid SE than nostalgia, and beneath its exterior lies a fiendish level of complexity.

A spinning vortex is effective against foes

A spinning vortex is effective against foes

Must Try Harder

Repetition is the key as you relentlessly repeat each level in a bid to shave just a fraction of a second off your time. Finding that perfect line and visualizing the corner like an F1 driver will see you physically leaning with the phone in your hand. Some may inevitably be frustrated by the endless restarts needed to secure that one perfect run and perhaps this could see you binning the game after a hour or so in favor of something more rewarding.

Difficulty increases exponentially as the levels progress, with the courses becoming harder to navigate thanks to an increasing number of surfaces that if touched become game enders. This is where things become fiendishly difficult and make Fluid SE the kind of game that you’d swear could only be completed by having a gaming controller plugged in, or bionic fingers.

This screen will become very familiar...

This screen will become very familiar…

There are 8 sets of levels to unlock with 5 tracks in each with each tier requiring a set number of stars that find you frequently tracking back in search of levels with low scores hoping for those quick wins to boost your totals. Fluid SE also lists a number of achievements that you can complete so even if you repeatedly fail trying to navigate one obstacle (likely) you may unlock an achievement that will provide you with a sliver of reward. There is also a ‘move assist’ option that is switched to ‘normal’ by default allowing you a degree of leeway adjusting for your shaky thumb although the benefit this setting gives isn’t massively noticeable.

Additional achievements offer some alternative play

Additional achievements offer some alternative play

Overall, Fluid SE is a fast and furious little game. Levels are short enough to keep you going back for more but some users may find that the level of repetitive play is just too much.

Price: $1.99 / £1.49
Size: 44.9 MB
Version: 1.01
Developer: Radiangames

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