Meow Lab Review

Rotate, slide, and place pieces together to form a complete network of wires in Meow Lab!

Format: PC via Steam
First playthrough time: 2 hours
Cost: 1.99 USD

Meow Lab. Level with 11 pieces and 5 piece types, include rotation-only and slide-only pieces.

Released Jan 25th, 2021 by Pinel games

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Quick Overview

Major Pros:
  • Meaningfully distinct piece types
  • Good difficulty curve
Major Cons:
  • Board can get cramped in later levels
Minor Pros:
  • A good amount of levels
Minor Cons:
  • I wanted the background to do more given how much of the screen it took up
Meow Lab. Level with 7 pieces and 2 piece types. The pieces are close together, but not correctly connected.

An early level to introduce new piece types

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In-Depth Review

Meow Lab is a puzzle game where players arrange pieces on a grid so that all the wires are connected. There are a variety of piece types, some allowing rotation while others may have free movement or be confined to a vertical or horizontal track. There is always one or more starting pieces that are static and sometimes others that are immovable but allow rotation. The final solution to each puzzle must use and connect every piece into a single structure.

Meow Lab. Leve with 14 pieces and 5 piece types. There is also a small blue police box figure visible in the background.

A pop culture reference can be found on the left of the background

Meow Lab offers 50 levels of increasing difficulty, providing a good amount of content. The difficulty curve is smooth, but later levels have a tendency to get cramped when trying to move pieces around as the board stays the same size throughout the game. The last five or so levels I found particularly challenging due to the large number of pieces involved and all the possible connections. On some of these, I found it useful to look up community hints outside the game to determine what overall silhouette I was trying to create.

Meow Lab. Level with 8 pieces and 3 piece types.

Every level starts off scrambled on the board

A good portion of the screen real estate in Meow Lab is dedicated to a thematic background. Occasionally this will contain pop culture references, though mostly it’s idle animations and the game’s cat walking back and forth. For how much of the screen the background took up, I’d have liked to see more interaction options for the player to distract themselves when frustrated. Though it is probably more practical to reduce the background and increase the size of the board, perhaps adding a tray to store pieces while the player works.

Meow Lab. Level with 20 pieces and 5 piece types. The final design is a pseudo-symmetric pattern of squares.

One of the more complex later levels

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Recommendation

Overall, I found Meow Lab to be a pretty enjoyable puzzle game. The pieces were meaningfully distinct and the game had a good amount of content. The difficulty curve was good, but later levels had a tendency to get cramped trying to shuffle around so many pieces. I also found the background to take up too much of the screen real estate for what it added to the game. I recommend Meow Lab to puzzle game fans looking for some simple mechanics yet challenging gameplay.

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