Tuesday, 12 July 2016
Tumblestone Review (Xbox One version)
It's a nice change of direction from the team behind one of XBL's most quirky puzzlers 'The Bridge'. Tumblestone isn't necessarily unique, but it does have the same quirks that it's predecessor had.
In a world where stones, called Tumblestones, block the way through various kingdoms/environments, it's left up to several heroes to solve puzzles to clear the path through, whilst trying to discover what has happened to the Tumblestone Crown.
Puzzles can be quite challenging as they need to be solved in a certain way to progress. Looking at it, you'd be forgiven for thinking it's just like those games, where you shoot a pebble in to other pebles to take out all the touch eachother of the same colour. You'd be wrong. This is much more challenging and alot more satisfying to play. You're given the task of taking out blocks of three at a time, from anywhere on the board so long as it isn't blocked by another colour.
"That's easy" you may be thinking, however, this is somewhat of an devil in disguise. If you rush, you'll lose and various different puzzle types will have you against the ropes quickly if you try and force your way through.
Some puzzles also give you extra items (such as skip tokens), some unlock boxes and others produce boss style puzzles. As the game progress', you also start to encounter stones which can't be removed until all other blocks in that row are taken out. So, very often you have to think of a couple of moves ahead as the puzzlea start to push the boundries of your logical thinking. Some puzzles even come down the screen at you, forcing you to think a tiny bit quicker. There's even the usage of multiplayer mechanics inside Story mode, for example at the end of the first world, you race a friend in an battle scenario (multiplayer modes explained later).
It's Mod of the day and Multiplayer where the fun really comes in to a league of its own however. Mod of the day changes the rules and even physics of the game board. Our favourite so far is second stone. The first and third stone are taken as normal from the row but the second is the next block in, so it takes a little bit of getting used to and even when you do, you forget on the odd occassion and have to start again.
It's hard to comment on graphics on a game that doesn't really rely on them at all. Regardless, they are bright (as you'd expect with a title based on matching colours), and you can tell a lot of love went in to them. You can see a recurring theme with Quantum Astrophysics Guild's games within graphics. They clearly mean a lot to them.
Multiplayer is where the most fun is had, in multiplayer you can either go head to head with other players or use bots to practice against. There's three modes. Battle, is a simple, first to 5 game type where you just have to clear the stones. This sounds easy but the simplest mistake lets your opponents take advantage.
Puzzle race adds blocks to the screen as you try to clear the board, in a kind of reverse Tetris style game type. If it reaches the bottom of the screen you're eliminated, however, if some bright spark manages to clear the board they win. This is harder than the others as the game seems to deliberately give you colours that match no other block on the board, just for fun. But it's also the most engaging of the three.
The most infuriating one however is, Tug of War. In a way, the fact it tries your patience isn't really a bad thing. In Tug of War, you fight to keep your board down, split in to two sectiona each board. The first one to clear their board adds one to whoever is in second place at the time. If that person is about to clear thier first one though, expect to get your blocks back and start again. It's the mode that lasts the longest, but you get more of a sense of accomplishment from defeating everyone else by winning this mode.
Overal, the game is actually super fun. It also goes on to games with gold this month, which is a good enough reason to check out this beauty of a puzzler. Not strictly as strong as 'The bridge' but sound in execution, 'Tumblestone' should and will capture your heart, just like it's closest XBL rival EA's Peggle. This is charming in a totally different way to Peggle and if nothing else, the multiplayer will keep you entertained for hours.
Released on the 16th, Tumblestone is available on Xbox One, PS4 and Steam.