Tidalis – Review
Review by Ben Tyrer (Tumblr)
Tidalis. A vast, unexplored continent, shrouded in mystery and void of all life… But is it really?
This is the setting for the latest Puzzle offering from Arcen Games, who you may recall for their extremely well received AI War Series, and boy is it a sight. In adventure mode, you crash on the golden shores of this rather magnificent region and it’s charm is immediately encapsulating. It’s evident from the onset that a vast amount of passion was poured into this game, from the superb piano-and-string musical score to the detailed and smoothly animated backgrounds that chart your progress into the heart of the continent, which- while beautiful – never distract from the game.
That was never too much of a concern, however, because this is one of the more engrossing puzzle games I’ve played. On the surface it looks relatively to similar to any other clear-the-board type puzzle game currently on the market, but in actuality Tidalis possesses unique mechanics which not only breathe life into this somewhat tired genre, but make for consistently challenging and interesting puzzling challenge.
Essentially, you are given a standard grid board which begins to slowly fill with coloured blocks, each engraved with an arrow. By aligning blocks and changing their arrows’ direction, you direct ‘streams’ which, when passed through a chain of three or more same-coloured blocks, removes those blocks from the grid. This ingenious mechanic forms the foundation of the game, and there are many variations on the mode itself and the types of block to be found, making for a great amount of diversity. For example, glass blocks can only be removed from the grid by eliminating the blocks underneath it, causing the glass block to fall and shatter. Tinder blocks directly interrupt the streams, preventing large chains from being created, and can only be removed by eliminating a red block within a certain radius of the timber, scorching it from the board. Other variants come into play as the game goes on, including the necessity to avoid removing certain colours from the board, which adds a layer of strategic thinking to the game so as not to inadvertently spark off chains which will remove those restricted blocks.
Throughout your journey into the heart of Tidalis, you will encounter a weird and wonderful cast in the form of the land’s inhabitants. The dialogue here is surprisingly sharp and amusing, with the delightfully eccentric creatures intent on creating puzzles difficult enough to convince you to leave their treasured home.
You’re really getting a bang for your buck with this game, as it offers an exhaustive amount of modes and options to toy around with. Not only does it support custom games, community-created brainteasers, ranked levels, and editors of all shapes and sizes, but it also includes network play- that’s local and internet. Impressive stuff.
Seriously, the effort poured into this game cannot be stressed enough. You can submit scores to twitter, customize the appearance of blocks, even directly edit the animated backgrounds to better suit your taste. There’s nothing they haven’t thought of.
Browsing the update log offered in-game, I can see a huge list of enhancements brought on quite a regular basis. Most recently, bugs were fixed and monitor resolution support was enhanced. It’s refreshing to see a developer take such care with their product after release.
If you’re interested in trying it out, Tidalis can be demoed on steam here, and with all the features I’ve mentioned above, I think you’d be amiss not to.
Tidalis, PC – £7.68
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