Puzzle games really aren’t my thing. I tend to get incredibly frustrated if I can’t see a solution to a puzzle; I’m pretty sure that my autism plays a part in this. I struggle to connect the dots when a situation isn’t obvious and puzzle games tend to annoy me rather than entertain me.
That said, I do enjoy Tetris, as well as platformers. Though Tetra’s Escape is a puzzle game at heart, the fusion of Tetris and platforming, coupled with a forgiving nature and short levels, means that it hasn’t caused me the frustration I’d normally expect from a puzzle game.
Tetra’s Escape starts with a brief cinematic scene – which already puts us in unusual territory for a puzzle game – which shows lots of sentient coloured blocks having their day completely ruined by being sucked through a malevolent looking portal (don’t you just hate it when that happens?).
The game itself sees you assisting a grey block in getting to the increasingly deviously placed exit on each stage. Your blocks can’t jump (though they can climb one block high), so you’ll need to enlist and move sentient blocks of different colours to morph into tetrominos – one of the basic Tetris shapes – in order to create platforms and allow ‘grey’ to get access to the exit portal.
Once a block is transformed into a tetromino and placed, it can’t be moved – so there will be plenty of occasions where you have to restart a level because you’ve either put a block in the wrong place or you’ve used the wrong shape – some blocks will have a choice of shapes to morph into, and sometimes you’ll have a number of blocks (and therefore shapes) to choose from.
As in Tetris, you can rotate the tetromino before placing it; unlike Tetris, you’re under no time pressure to do so. Tetrominos can also be switched to a mirrored position, which adds further options to the positions your character can fill.
There are three stars in each level to collect, and collection of all three triggers the appearance of a cup – which often materialises in a tricky to reach area.
Much like the best puzzle games – those that don’t frustrate me, in any case – there’s a great feeling of satisfaction when a solution clicks in Tetra’s Escape; when the blocks fall into place (pun most definitely intended).
Though graphically simple, there’s a nice 2.5D loook to the Tetra’s Escape – and the blocks themselves, despite lacking much in the way of anthropomorphised features, are animated with a nice sense of character. The visuals in general are bold and vividly, pleasingly colourful too. The sound and music, though not hugely memorable, are sweet and inoffensive.
I’ve had a great time with Tetra’s Escape. It’s pitched at just the right level of difficulty and complexity for my brain, which may mean that it’s a little too simple for most people. It’s an unusual, unique game with an excellent melding of genres – a cute and reasonably laid-back experience that I highly recommend, even if puzzle games aren’t usually your cup of tea.
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