Mento's May Madness: #2 - Blocks That Matter

01/05/12 - Amnesia: The Dark Descent12/05/12 - Nimbus24/05/12 - Chime
02/05/12 - Blocks That Matter13/05/12 - Puzzle Bots25/05/12 - Diamond Dan
03/05/12 - Capsized14/05/12 - Rhythm Zone27/05/12 - Doc Clock: The Toasted Sandwich of Time
04/05/12 - Delve Deeper15/05/12 - Starscape28/05/12 - The Misadventures of PB Winterbottom
05/05/12 - Eufloria17/05/12 - Tobe's Vertical Adventure30/05/12 - Gemini Rue
06/05/12 - Frozen Synapse18/05/12 - Uplink: Hacker Elite
07/05/12 - Greed: Black Border19/05/12 - Zen Bound 2
08/05/12 - Hammerfight20/05/12 - Max Payne 2
10/05/12 - Lume21/05/12 - A.R.E.S.: Extinction Agenda
11/05/12 - Machinarium23/05/12 - Avadon: The Black Fortress

02/05/12 - Game #2

The game: Swing Swing Submarine's Blocks That Matter

The source: The Humble Voxatron Debut Bundle. It came with Binding of Isaac too, so it was already a pretty great deal.

The pre-amble: Blocks That Matter is an Indie puzzle platformer (gasp) where the player controls the stalwart Tetrabot - a cube-shaped robot that is able to drill and repurpose blocks of different material compositions. Every stage is solved by reaching a portal in some out of the way place, usually by collecting blocks from the environment and positioning them in tetranimo shapes (seeing those a lot lately) to facilitate further progress. It's Mr Driller meets Sokoban, if you're into that whole slightly reductive "X meets Y" brevity thing.

The playthrough: After some cutscenes involving some affable self-insertion Swedish game designers and their tiny tiny robot, we're dropped into what seems like familiar Indie puzzle platformer territory: The graphics are suitably primitive yet colorful, the music's just kind of there and the puzzles seem straightforward enough, at least initially. I know how these puzzle games like to escalate their complexity, though, especially when they start introducing feature after feature. Soon, I'm dealing with certain types of block (seemingly randomly designated) that fall when placed in limbo with nothing underneath to support them; blocks that can be eliminated when placed in rows of eight or greater; blocks that can't be drilled yet; sliding ice blocks; switches that respond to certain types of block; and so on. I'm only halfway through the game (according to its level select) and it's a little exhausting, but this is just the usual puzzle game paradigm of them very slowly laying all their cards on the table, lest you enervate your poor player's cognitive functions too quickly with too many new rules.

Besides that, there's not really that much to say about this game. It has a lot to offer puzzle fans, and I don't doubt it'll continue to get more difficult and more perplexing as the levels go on. I have to say, though, that I've already spied an unfortunate pattern where the levels are getting longer with several instances, placed consecutively, that require some acute platforming and very deliberate "A -> B -> C" courses of action - yet the game insists on a "reset everything" function that eschews checkpointing of any kind. I might play a bit further and end up eating my words when such a feature is implemented (as I'm not convinced the game is done showing me new things), but for the time being it's making the current challenge seem somewhat daunting and not in a fun way. While I hesitate to stop now and later find myself needing to rediscover "the zone" one's mind must be in to solve the puzzles at this level, I'm ready to move on.

The verdict: Will revisit.

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5 Comments
Posted by Mento
01/05/12 - Amnesia: The Dark Descent12/05/12 - Nimbus24/05/12 - Chime
02/05/12 - Blocks That Matter13/05/12 - Puzzle Bots25/05/12 - Diamond Dan
03/05/12 - Capsized14/05/12 - Rhythm Zone27/05/12 - Doc Clock: The Toasted Sandwich of Time
04/05/12 - Delve Deeper15/05/12 - Starscape28/05/12 - The Misadventures of PB Winterbottom
05/05/12 - Eufloria17/05/12 - Tobe's Vertical Adventure30/05/12 - Gemini Rue
06/05/12 - Frozen Synapse18/05/12 - Uplink: Hacker Elite
07/05/12 - Greed: Black Border19/05/12 - Zen Bound 2
08/05/12 - Hammerfight20/05/12 - Max Payne 2
10/05/12 - Lume21/05/12 - A.R.E.S.: Extinction Agenda
11/05/12 - Machinarium23/05/12 - Avadon: The Black Fortress

02/05/12 - Game #2

The game: Swing Swing Submarine's Blocks That Matter

The source: The Humble Voxatron Debut Bundle. It came with Binding of Isaac too, so it was already a pretty great deal.

The pre-amble: Blocks That Matter is an Indie puzzle platformer (gasp) where the player controls the stalwart Tetrabot - a cube-shaped robot that is able to drill and repurpose blocks of different material compositions. Every stage is solved by reaching a portal in some out of the way place, usually by collecting blocks from the environment and positioning them in tetranimo shapes (seeing those a lot lately) to facilitate further progress. It's Mr Driller meets Sokoban, if you're into that whole slightly reductive "X meets Y" brevity thing.

The playthrough: After some cutscenes involving some affable self-insertion Swedish game designers and their tiny tiny robot, we're dropped into what seems like familiar Indie puzzle platformer territory: The graphics are suitably primitive yet colorful, the music's just kind of there and the puzzles seem straightforward enough, at least initially. I know how these puzzle games like to escalate their complexity, though, especially when they start introducing feature after feature. Soon, I'm dealing with certain types of block (seemingly randomly designated) that fall when placed in limbo with nothing underneath to support them; blocks that can be eliminated when placed in rows of eight or greater; blocks that can't be drilled yet; sliding ice blocks; switches that respond to certain types of block; and so on. I'm only halfway through the game (according to its level select) and it's a little exhausting, but this is just the usual puzzle game paradigm of them very slowly laying all their cards on the table, lest you enervate your poor player's cognitive functions too quickly with too many new rules.

Besides that, there's not really that much to say about this game. It has a lot to offer puzzle fans, and I don't doubt it'll continue to get more difficult and more perplexing as the levels go on. I have to say, though, that I've already spied an unfortunate pattern where the levels are getting longer with several instances, placed consecutively, that require some acute platforming and very deliberate "A -> B -> C" courses of action - yet the game insists on a "reset everything" function that eschews checkpointing of any kind. I might play a bit further and end up eating my words when such a feature is implemented (as I'm not convinced the game is done showing me new things), but for the time being it's making the current challenge seem somewhat daunting and not in a fun way. While I hesitate to stop now and later find myself needing to rediscover "the zone" one's mind must be in to solve the puzzles at this level, I'm ready to move on.

The verdict: Will revisit.

Moderator Online
Posted by Video_Game_King

What was that "dee diddle-dee diddle-dee-dee-dee" part?

And no, there's checkpoint feature in Blocks that Matter. There never is.

Posted by Mento

@Video_Game_King: A poor representation of this?

Well that's good to know. I'm guessing I'm going to get tired of repeating whole swathes of the game in the same way I did with Super Meat Boy.

Moderator Online
Posted by Video_Game_King

Yea, I still have to finish Super Meat Boy, too. I could probably finish it right now (I get the feeling that it's not a particularly long game), but I've plans for Super Meat Boy. *lightning, evil laughter*

Posted by Tordah

I played this too for maybe an hour or two. It seems alright but yes, the lack of checkpoints makes the game way more tedious and annoying than it needs to be. Especially when you mess up at a tricky ending several times, forcing you to replay  the first half of the level over and over again.