Tidalis is yet another title looking to capitalise on the recent success of ‘Match-3’ titles across the industry. The game takes use of a new interpretation of the genre, however, flaws in three major fronts bring the game below par when compared with other titles of the same nature.
This title strays away from the tried and tested formula of swapping blocks around to match three. For its bravery in that department, the game deserves recognition. Instead of the more traditional gameplay we see in other titles, Tidalis has players shoot streams from blocks. The direction in which this stream travels depends on where an arrow is pointing on the block, and players can manipulate this to their advantage. The stream must hit another block of the same colour within a certain distance, or you’ll have to start your combo again. Hit three or more blocks of the same colour in one stream, and they’ll disappear.
Though the fundamentals are hard to get used to at first, a player will get better at setting up combos with persistence. Beyond the initial stream one sends out, falling blocks will automatically send out streams. In some instances, this game is about looking ahead and determining how clearing one set of blocks will help you continue a combo to gain the highest score possible. Though the thought behind this feature is strong, even the most keen puzzlers will have trouble linking up a high combo without luck.
This innovative system had a lot of potential. If more time was spent consolidating a few game modes, this could have been a very successful puzzler. However, the developers seemed to think variety is key, and introduced a bunch of game modes and variations to change things up. If variety is your thing, then the diverse range of modes and objectives will tickle your taste buds.. but even then, the imprecision of certain aspects of play will leave with you a lingering feeling of annoyance.
My main gripe with this game however, is the adventure mode.. An array of puzzles are presented and separated by cutscenes, which is where the problem lies. I simply can’t understand why somebody thought it was a good idea to give this sort of title a full blown adventure mode. Needless to say, the story is complicated and hard to follow and the characters are as annoying as they get.
Seen in Tidalis are some features which should belong to every game of this genre. Online play – both competitive and cooperative – is available if you’re able to pair up with someone, though you’d be lucky to find a game. There’s also a level editor, meaning that, past the original adventure and puzzles, extra replayability is found in playing through the creations of other players.
The rest of the game tends to follow the trend set by the adventure mode, trying to achieve too much without focusing on the fundamentals. While all the extras such as a level editor and online play are nice to have, it would be nice if there was more focus on the core experience. The music is annoying rather than catchy, the visuals fail to add much at all and many levels are riddled with bugs.