Across the sea is a ‘shrouded continent’ known as Tidalis, because of the great waves that smash ships to bits upon it’s cliff covered shores. Only myth comes out about what Tidalis holds, always told as a friend of a friend story. It is your duty to find ‘some amalgamated culture, divergent from our own feudalism in the absence of hereditary lords’ that has developed in this strange land. What you find is an imp in a bubble named Pickles who has laid claim to the land and sets puzzle traps for ‘aliens’ such as yourself who arrive in his kingdom. He is aided by oddly shaped floating creatures of various description and varying intelligence. Without giving too much more away, this is the back story behind some very innovative puzzle designs.
There are nice backgrounds, some funny, that generally are simple in design to keep from distracting too much from the game but the gameplay which usually pulls you in enough that you don’t notice the backgrounds. The cut scenes are silly and ridiculous with simple graphics. They can be entertaining but really the game would have been fine without them. They are only in Adventure mode and are skippable so some may choose to.
The concept is fairly simple, line up blocks of the same color with arrows on the blocks pointing in the direction you wish the blocks to travel. When the blocks are activated they leave spaces after they clear and activate special blocks or nearby lines. Blocks drop down to fill the spaces and new block drop from above. The matching lines have to be a minimum of 3 blocks long and can jump 2 normal blocks under normal circumstances. The trick is that circumstances become abnormal quick as unique blocks are introduced and game physics are distorted. Sometimes you have both these challenges and possibly a timer as well. There are easily over 100 various combinations employed in the game and the initial game starting color block patterns are random meaning you can play the same level twice and have different results and scores. Though it sounds a little complicated the general idea is easy to pick up when played and it tutors you a bit. Also when you right click and hold on a certain color it dulls the other colored blocks so you can see patterns easier. ‘Handicap’ can be adjusted to make the game easier or more difficult depending on your skill and if a puzzle gets too difficult to beat there is a skip puzzle option so you don’t get stuck.
This game is all point and click, one mouse button to adjust the directions of the arrows and look for patterns, the other to start the blocks going. They basically destroy like a domino falling or a fuse burning so you just sit back and plan your next move while they destroy through your chosen path. Point and click is also how you get through the cutscenes, read the bit of dialogue then click on the screen for the next part, handy if someone is a slower reader.
You can change the design of the blocks but in the end the background and the graphics almost have a throw back feel to them. This would have been at home amongst the puzzle games of the old consoles graphics wise. It’s difference lies in the puzzle challenges. The music can be soothing when things are going well and it gets faster when the blocks get close to the top. When marathon playing I would recommend having some other music going, because it is always the same tune in the game when things are going well and the same one when things are going bad. It sounds a lot like other puzzle games and after a while can get a bit redundant.
There is a two player head to head mode very similar to other puzzle games but with this game’s twists. Online multiplayer is available but seems a bit limited in finding partners, probably better to get a buddy to play in a private hosted game or a networked one and then you can gloat on your victory in person.
This game is great for the casual player who wants to do a puzzle or two to kill some time or the hardcore puzzler who goes for hours on end playing. With so many different levels and with high replay value to try to beat your time or better your score, this game could last infinite hours and at a minimum if only played once at least a couple day’s play. It retails for $9.99 and can sometimes be found on sale for even cheaper, making it really worth it’s money for how much play is available. Even if you only play it once for a few hours that is cheaper than a movie.
Tidalis is a block-based puzzle game which can appeal to all levels of players with its varieties and combinations making for over 100 levels. The surface concept is simple but the level construction can quickly prove to be an addictive challenge. Combine all that with a great price and it is easy to overlook the lackluster and often ridiculous storyline.
*DISCLOSURE: A copy of this game was sent to us for the purpose of this review.