Frantix is a 3D puzzle game that has you running through a bunch of mazes, pushing crates, avoiding traps and enemies, and collecting gems to open up an exit. That's it--no character background, no multiplayer, no convoluted story about the gems or the doors they're used to open--it's just one quick puzzle after the other until you've finished the game. The puzzles can be fun and challenging, but the anemic gameplay and generic presentation will leave you feeling unsatisfied with Frantix.
Push blocks, hit switches, avoid enemies, collect gems. That's about all there is to do in Frantix.
There's only one mode in Frantix, which might be called story mode without the story. You solve puzzle after puzzle by collecting gems. Most gems require a bit of effort to collect though, since levels are often filled with lava, water, quicksand, traps, creatures, and locked doors. You can't attack or jump, but you can shove bombs, crates, and stone blocks around, which comes in handy for killing enemies, triggering switches, or making makeshift bridges across hazardous areas. Once you have enough gems you just need to find an exit, and presto, the level is done. As you clear levels and collect gems, other puzzles are unlocked. There are six themed worlds in all, each with between 15 and 40 puzzles to complete. Each level takes anywhere from seven seconds to a minute and a half to complete. The levels are often tiny, but there are loading times between each one. Even though the load times are short, it's still irritating to have to wait through a five- second load screen for only 10 or 15 seconds of gameplay.
Some of the levels are inventive and challenging, requiring you to carefully assess each puzzle and carry out a series of moves in a specific order to clear the level. Other puzzles are more obvious and just require some quick moves and good timing to complete. Unfortunately, because of the way the game is constructed, you just end up trying a bunch of different solutions until one works out. Once you know how to solve the puzzle, there's no reason to go back and play it. You can try to best your time through the level, but that isn't particularly satisfying. Even the puzzles you haven't cleared start to look the same after awhile. Once you learn a few of the tricks the developers like to use, it doesn't take more than a few tries to figure out how to solve any given puzzle.
The biggest challenges in all of the puzzles in Frantix are the view angle and the control. You control one of a handful of characters that all behave exactly the same. You can use the D pad or analog stick to move, but you can only move in four directions and you're restricted to an invisible grid. It's like Pac-Man in that when you push to the left you move at least one full space to the left. It isn't like modern games, where you can creep around in any direction you please and stop on a dime. The levels are designed accordingly, but this type of control takes some getting used to. Sometimes you want to run for a short distance and then stop. But if you don't let your thumb off the button at just the right time, your character won't stop and you'll overshoot your target space. This can be extremely frustrating when you're trying to avoid all kinds of enemies and other hazards while quickly making your way through a level.