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Tricky Towers

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Puzzle
Publisher: WeirdBeard
Developer: WeirdBeard
Release Date: Aug. 2, 2016

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.


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PC Review - 'Tricky Towers'

by Brian Dumlao on Jan. 13, 2017 @ 1:00 a.m. PST

In Tricky Towers, stack your bricks and battle your friends to see whose tower will be the most stable.

Competitive play has long been proven to be good for puzzle games. You can trace this back to the arcade version of Tetris, which featured head-to-head play. Since then, a good chunk of those games has made it a point to include a competitive twist to the established formula. On the surface, the result is very good in Tricky Towers. Dig deep enough, however, and you'll see that this is only true for part of the game.

Tetriminos in the all-too-familiar shapes fall from the sky one piece at a time. You rotate and shift them around, so you can place them on the randomly shaped base you're given. The pieces do not disappear once you place them on the field, however. Instead, you use the pieces to create a tower to the heavens. While you may be tempted to just stack everything , physics will make you think otherwise, since failing to create a stable environment for your pieces will result in them shifting. Parts of your tower will crumble if you aren't careful about where the next tetrad lands.

That basic formula is augmented by a few things. You can now nudge the current piece you're working with in either direction, a move that can seem detrimental since the force of a nudge has the potential to knock over a few blocks. Surviving long enough and reaching certain height milestones can give you access to both light and dark magic. Both spells are randomly selected, and while you have the choice to use either one, you'll lose the other in the process. Light magic usually only affects you and grants you some advantages, such as lightning that randomly gets rid of a piece for you, a floating land mass that can be used as a protective barrier for your tower, and vines that hold a few pieces in place. Dark magic, on the other hand, affects others by granting ice properties to pieces so they slide around or enlarging them to the point where instability is almost guaranteed.

Multiplayer offers three different game types. Race mode pits you against three other people as you try to become the first person to cross the finish line. However, reaching the line is only half of the goal, as you have to make sure that the winning piece stays in the finish line area for at least three seconds in order for it to count. Survival gives each player three lives, and they have to keep building their tower and be the last person to run out of lives. Lives are taken away once a piece falls outside of the tower's designated area, but the game only counts instances of pieces falling instead of the individual pieces. For example, if three pieces fall from the tower at the same time, you're only losing one life instead of three. The final mode is Puzzle, which tasks you with fitting in as many pieces as possible under a laser. Once a piece hits the laser, it disappears, and your total number of pieces is finally counted.

The physics system is what makes the multiplayer fun. The spells are good additions, but people will remember the physics as blocks shift around and take tumbles. It's both horrifying and amusing to see some of the tetrads teetering on the edge of collapse before slowly tumbling down. Change up the difficulty to add wind, and it becomes more hilarious as blocks are thrown all over the place and winning towers look like haphazard structures that could tip over at any moment.

The usual complaint for a game with a strong local multiplayer component is that the option for online play is missing. The good news is that Tricky Towers comes with online multiplayer for all game modes and difficulties. The bad news is that the community simply isn't there. After days of searching, not one game could be found online. While the option is appreciated, it is clear that this is a title for offline local play.

Where the game falters is in its single-player content, which features two modes: Endless and Trials. Endless mode asks you to use as many pieces as possible, and it stops you after you lose enough pieces for the end-of-level cap to drop, so your final total can be tallied. Trials mode takes the multiplayer aspects and throws them at you in a selectable format. The only change is that you won't be able to gain or use any magic powers until the latter half of the trials, leaving you at the mercy of enemy AI.

There's not much meat to these modes that would entice people to play them when friends are absent. The trials are fine, but you need an equal amount of luck and skill to get through a good portion of them. You can unlock more trials, but that's the extent of the extras. Endless mode could be a haven for score chasers trying to climb the leaderboards. Unfortunately, the connection to the leaderboards was barely working when we tried the game, so even those bragging rights went away once we exited the game. As such, solo puzzle players will simply seek another title to keep them occupied.

The presentation is clean. Everything from the background to the characters and the tetrads are simple at first glance but look good thanks to the broad color palette. The tetrads are packed with little details, like cracks on the faces, which is cool but unexpected. The music is fairly bouncy, which works well for this type of game, and the shrieks from the wizards when something good or bad happens is a nice touch overall.

Tricky Towers is recommended if you know you're going to be playing it with people all the time. Although the online community is practically nonexistent, the chaos of local multiplayer makes it a game that you can put in constant rotation without anyone getting tired of it. While it does have a good, clean presentation, it doesn't have much to offer in the single-player department to keep players engaged.

Score: 6.5/10

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