From the sound of the title I thought this would be a game where you strategically place falling tetrominoes to help guide a character to the finish. Given that I’m a Tetris fanatic, I kept my eye out for this one until I got a hold of it. However, Tetra’s Escape is a different sort of puzzler than the one I imagined. That’s not a bad thing by any means, of course.
Once you get past a strangely long-lasting startup screen, Tetra’s Escape is a colorful little game that takes place entirely in confined level layouts. The layouts themselves are rather, well, blocky. It at least makes sense in the given context; after all, this is a game about tetrominoes, and the playable squares have a direct connection to them. It may look rather basic at some points (the layouts and the simple backgrounds are all you get, really), but I imagine busier visuals would distract from the puzzle-solving. For what it is, it performs smoothly and has some neat effects.
There is a soft atmosphere portrayed by the game’s sound design. From the laid-back music to the pitter patters of the squares’ feet, Tetra’s Escape has a relaxing tone to it. I don’t think the music ever changes in any of the game’s worlds though. The HD Rumble can also get rather obnoxious every time you want a square to morph into a tetromino (Fortunately, you can turn that feature off).
The game’s structure is about as straightforward as puzzle-platformers usually are; you get to see what to do in the level, you beat the level, and the cycle repeats until the end. However, the kinds of puzzles that Tetra’s Escape has to offer are enjoyable challenges. Its main hook – transforming into certain tetraminoes to use them as platforms – works very well. There are plenty of instances where you could think of one way to put them in form, but if you want to get all the stars and trophies in each level, you’d have to plan harder to accommodate for them.
The game rewards clever thinking and it plays around with the formula enough to keep things fresh. Oddly, it doesn’t combine some of the mechanics it introduces later into the game; for example, you don’t see the lava tiles or gravity mechanics used together. Nevertheless, the game provides a healthy amount of content and brain-teasing to go around. I just would’ve liked to see it go a little further in that regard. I also feel it’d be useful to use the touch screen to select which character you want to control (using L and R to shift through them can feel a bit tedious).
However you look at it, though, Tetra’s Escape is a remarkable and affordable offering on the eShop. Fans of level-based puzzle games will find Tetra’s interesting and pleasing to play through. As with any good game in the genre, it reels you in with a simple idea and gradually builds on it.
Review copy provided by Ratalaika Games