Grid-based puzzle game Prickle may look simple, but it's an adorable test of endurance

Prickle puzzle with Dadhog and a hoglet
(Image credit: Sunbird Studio)

Judging by its trailer, I thought Prickle would be a pretty simple puzzle game. All I had to do was move the father hedgehog around a simple grid to collect my babies and deliver them safely to a door. Easy enough, right? Aside from a few simple rotations to fit through tight gaps, there wasn't a real challenge straight away. But the further I ventured into the game the harder these levels became. Suddenly gathering my hoglets into a prickle became a very convoluted process and certain levels had me leaning back in my chair and scratching my head trying to figure them out. 

Besides moving around the grid-based map and occasionally rotating, you don't have to worry about any other controls. But, the more hoglets you pick up, the more careful you have to be with your positioning, which is where things increase in difficulty. 

Before long I found myself retracing my own steps trying to strategically work out the best way to migrate around the map. If that failed, I restarted each level more times than I'd like to admit. When hoglets are stuck to Dadhog (the hedgehog you control) you have to figure out the best way to rotate them, sort of like a Tetris piece. So expect a lot of trial and error before you figure it out. 

However, solving these puzzles feels incredibly rewarding once you hear the happy chirps of your hoglets. Despite there not being any dialogue, I quickly became emotionally invested in my hedgehog family. Getting them safely to the door was enough incentive to try every single possible way to solve the puzzle—regardless of how frustrated I ended up getting at certain puzzles that I felt like I just couldn't hack. It was all worth it when the chorus of squeaks erupted at the end of a level. 

Fortunately, if you do get particularly stuck, there's a hint button that serves as a general nudge in the right direction rather than holding your hand entirely. With that said, there were times when I felt like I could've used slightly more assistance, mostly because no matter how many rotations I tried one of my pesky hoglets was getting me stuck. On the harder levels, these hints only tell you the position of a few hedgehogs. But these more vague hints only helped the eventual 'eureka' moment that came once I figured it out. 

I was initially captivated by the puzzle aspect of the game, but it's the details that help the game ooze charm, sticking with me long after I had completed its short but sweet demo. Things like the hedgehog you control dozing off if you pause for too long, or the stampede of cheeky hoglets that initiate the next set of levels give Prickle a lot of character despite its simplicity. 

Prickle's demo includes plenty of puzzles for you to work through to get a good feel for its challenge. Or if you're me, enough time to become emotionally attached to the hoglets you're responsible for. It's laidback without feeling repetitive, and its simple design still manages to be so charming. I've become slightly too attached to my hedgehog family, so I'm growing somewhat desperate to be able to play the full game.

Kara Phillips
Evergreen Writer

Kara is an evergreen writer. Having spent three years as a games journalist guiding, reviewing, or generally waffling about the weird and wonderful, she’s more than happy to tell you all about which obscure indie games she’s managed to sink hours into this week. When she’s not raising a dodo army in Ark: Survival Evolved or taking huge losses in Tekken, you’ll find her helplessly trawling the internet for the next best birdwatching game because who wants to step outside and experience the real thing when you can so easily do it from the comfort of your living room. Right?