Sliding tile puzzles are the most clichéd type of mini game, with pipeline puzzles following as a close second. But what if you combined the two in one package and actually made them interesting? This must have been what the creators of Cogs asked themselves. Nomen est omen here, as you don't just slide tiles around the same 8-tile board to reinstate a boring picture, but instead build awesome machines that mostly consist of cogwheels.
Well, at least half of them consist of cogwheels, the other half being made up by the aforementioned pipes. The puzzles start out simple - move the tiles around until you connect the motor with the trigger with a constant line of cogwheels or funnel gas through a working line of pipes. But the machines soon grow more complex, with puzzles over several interconnected surfaces, sometimes you even need to coordinate two sides of one plate. Sometimes the cogs come with nubs that ring different bells, which then have to be timed to play a short tune, which sounds easy but turns out really tricky when differently shaped nubs come into play. And all that comes before multi-leveled cogs and multi-colored gases are introduced. Only the big segmented cogwheels are almost like the traditional sliding puzzles, in that there is a precise order they have to be put in, but your efforts to put them back together are hampered with by some mean obstacles.
Cogs is full of such neat elements and clever ideas that it easily overcomes the seemingly tired concept. But the mechanics are only part of the appeal: The contraptions are a steampunk fan's dream come true, and range from a jack-in-a-box to a rocket whose engines all have to be fuelled at the same time. The most fun part is to see how it all makes sense - for a two-wheeled tank, for example, you have to connect the gears for each wheel, and the pipe to fuel its flame thrower cannon. Some are more abstract constructions that don't "serve a purpose" other than playing their tunes and blowing up balloons, though. The whole interface is designed in the same wood-and-brass style as the machines.
By default, Cogs is played in Inventor Mode, in which you can concentrate on simply solving the puzzle, and you are awarded stars for meeting certain time and move limits. But you can also take on the machines with a severe time- or move limit in Challenge Mode. Even though many of the machines are simplified here, the limit usually requires maximum efficiency, and you probably won't solve them all on one sitting. It's amazing to see how much one can get out of such pedestrian core mechanics. If you really hate sliding tile and pipeline puzzles, Cogs will probably not convert you, but if you like them in theory and are simply bored by the always same setups, then this may be perfect for you.