DEVELOPER WEIRDBEARD GAMES
PRICE TBA www.trickytowers.com
Generally, I like my puzzle games to be on mobile devices so that I can use them to briefly forget that I’m travelling to work on the train, or sitting at the kids’ gymnastics lessons. Occasionally, I find myself settling in for the evening with a snack, slippers and something from the (supposedly) casual genre, in a way I’d usually reserve for a more traditionally immersive gaming session, like with a massive RPG. Probably the last time I felt this way was about Critter Crunch. Tricky Towers certainly evokes similar anticipation in me, as well as my “non-gamer” husband and the kids.
We’ve now spent entire, otherwise boring days looking forward to rotating the familiarly shaped blocks and stacking them around each other in friendly competition. Gameplay is structured like Tetris, as an initial point of reference, but the pieces don’t immediately lock into place. Instead, they weigh each other down, pulling your rickety towers this way and that. After much experimentation, the physics seem quite sophisticated. Nudging and jamming pieces into unlikely, but learnable, arrangements can result in surprising structural solidness.
After building to a threshold, you can access light magic to bolster your tower, or dark magic to complicate the best laid plans of your adversary. One beneficial spell winds vines around adjacent blocks to bind them together, while a mischievous intervention can make an opponent’s piece impossibly large and very difficult to place. Trying to build higher than another human player makes the use of magic quite hilarious, if maddening. In the single-player campaign, the AI casts in routines that you have to learn to work around, as part of a given challenge.
In fact, I only started to beat my family, reliably, after conscientiously playing solo for a while. The campaign alternates survival, speed, and placement-specific scenarios to teach you what can go where. It’s also important to work increasingly quickly and around unexpected elements, including unwieldy pianos and fog, which obscures the top layer of what you’re building onto. As soon as a piece is placed slightly askance, everything is on an angle and falling into the abyss. It can be very difficult to recover from a small mistake, especially frustrating if you make it immediately.
Also, as with Fly O’clock, the UI provides useful information, like which pieces are coming next and how many remaining pieces you need to place in survival mode, but glancing away from the immediate action can kill you. Thinking quickly is paramount and I just wanted the information to be closer to where my eyes were. There are a few other minor inconveniences, like play sometimes feeling laggy at faster speeds, but nothing you can’t quickly learn to adapt to as you spend hours yelling at family and friends.
Tricky Towers is definitely something to look forward to in a post Dreamfall world. Think of its chaotic side as like pulling out a Jenga piece. You think everything will be fine and it usually is, but this one was actually just a millimetre more left than you had realised and, somehow, actually holding everything up. Then smash.
The familiarity of Tetris, combined with intuitive physics and magic makes for an enjoyable party game and an engaging solo experience. So, make everyone a hot chocolate, settle back and watch out for that bloody piano.
The familiarity of Tetris, combined with intuitive physics and magic.