By Mento 5 Comments
02/05/12 - Game #2
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.