The puzzle genre has come a long way since the humble beginnings of Tetris. There have been many attempts to reinvent the genre since then and the latest one comes in the form of Tumblestone.
Square shaped blocks of many colours called Tumblestones are on the loose and it’s up to players to get rid of them. This is also the main goal for the characters players get to control over the course of over ten different areas in the Story mode. There’s certainly a lot to do with each area containing thirty levels to complete.
But content isn’t everything and that is where Tumblestone manages to surprise in a positive manner. First of all, it’s handy that it follows an amusing story which sees the likes of the Queen of the Nile, Cleopatra, having to deal with the pesky blocks. The witty conversation between character at different points of the story is interesting and is also used as a way to introduce new characters in a natural manner.
New game mechanics are constantly being introduced as a way to avoid repetition. Fortunately these are successfully integrated and are used to present players with new challenges. One such game mechanic involves a special block that only disappears when the other blocks in the same row are gone. What is even better is the fact that there is a steady learning curve that ensures levels slowly get harder. Even new tougher game mechanics are introduced in such a manner that makes it possible to learn the basics first and then put them to good use in harder levels. If all fails, there is always the option to make use of tokens given at certain points that makes it possible to skip levels.
The idea is to match three blocks of the same colour to make them disappear. Whilst it may seem like a simple goal, it presents some interesting challenges that players must overcome. It’s necessary to always think ahead in order to ensure that there are enough blocks of the same colour to get rid of. Otherwise it is not possible to get rid of all blocks, since players can’t make use of same coloured blocks that are behind blocks that don’t have the same colour. In such a situation, the only way to continue is to restart the level and try a different approach to remove the blocks. Trying to get rid of two or three blocks that are not the same colour will result in failure.
Playing the Story mode levels means having to complete them in a certain order like a puzzle. Although only a minor setback, it’s somewhat disheartening to sometimes feel constricted by the fact that it seems like each level must be completed in a certain order. But it’s also satisfying to deal with tougher levels, since the addition of new game mechanics makes it all the more rewarding to eventually find the correct ways to complete them. One of the ideas that doesn’t work out quite so well are levels where it’s necessary to complete a few puzzles in a row. This is due to having to start again from the beginning if failing to complete one of the puzzles.
Completing the surprisingly entertaining Story mode will take some time, but there are also other modes to enjoy. These are found under the Arcade section in the Main Menu and consist of Marathon, Heartbeat and Infinipuzzle modes. As expected, Marathon mode consists of trying to last for as long as possible by clearing blocks and hopefully obtain a new high score. Heartbeat will ask players to complete certain goals whilst the block are constantly moving down on the board. Infinipuzzle makes it possible to make use of customer modifiers in the form of game mechanics to introduce new ways to challenge players. These are certainly a nice addition to what is already a competent puzzle game and a handy way to ensure that players can occasionally take a break from tackling the many levels found within each of the areas in the Story mode. Trying to get rid of three blocks by picking one that isn’t the same colour will also usually not result in instant failure. Instead the penalty given is to slightly lower the blocks. The idea is to avoid any blocks reaching the bottom as it will mean losing and this applies to all modes, where the blocks are moving downwards. It’s worth noting that multi-coloured blocks occasionally appear in these modes, which makes it easier to match three blocks of the same colour.
Those looking for a different kind of challenge can also choose to either go up against other players online or via local play. Given the nature of the genre it makes sense to make it possible to pit human players against each other.
Although simple, the colourful visuals and basic animations are reminiscent of old school puzzle titles. Given the nature of this title, it means that it’s easy to stop playing at any point and quickly get back to it when in the mood. Whilst on the surface it might just seem like another match three style title, there is no denying that Tumblestone has the potential to captivate players in a way that similar titles rarely do.