Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Chris Park, creator of the terrific A.I. Wars, has a new game, and it's called Tidalis.

It's hard to believe that a guy who can make a hardcore game like A.I. Wars would follow up with a puzzle game, that that's what Park has done, and even more incredibly, he's created a gameplay mechanic that is entirely unique.

Seriously, this guy is a badass.

Here's a screenshot:

Sorry, that's not the greatest screenshot (the graphics and backgrounds are actually very appealing), but take a look at the blocks and the directional arrows, because that's what important. When you touch a block, it fires off a beam in the direction the arrow is pointing. The beam can also pass through two blocks of a different color before it disintegrates, so if the same-colored block is three squares away, the beam will reach it. Then the beam is redirected based on the orientation of the block it just reached.

If you match three blocks, they disappear, and when the block above them lands, it sends off its own beam in the direction that it's pointing.

That's basically how it works, but in no way am I doing it justice. It's sensational in action--not the easiest concept to grasp in words, but totally addictive in action. There's urgency here as well, because blocks are falling from the top of the playing field, so even as you try to figure out long and multiple chains, you need to manage the time element as well.

This is easily the most interesting, unique gameplay mechanic I've ever seen in a puzzle game. It's terrific.

Plus, there are a huge number of variations on the basic gameplay, depending on the level. Some levels don't have falling blocks or at a time. Some levels have different movements for the beam (one where gravity affects the beam is particularly cool). There are obstruction blocks, wild card blocks--every kind of freaking block imaginable.

I think there's only one less than stellar aspect of the game--for me, at least--and that's the story. It's very well-written, and it's quite clever, but I think it would be fair to characterize it as "lightweight." In a commercial sense, that may well be an excellent decision, but I feel like the main gameplay mechanic is so incredibly weighty that I wanted to see a weighty, dramatic story paired with it.

I highly encourage you to check out the demo and see for yourself. Tidalis has a ton of content, it's high quality, and it's only $9.99, which is a great price. Here's the Tidalis website, and you can find the demo link from there.

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