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Tetrobot and Co.

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By Doubleplus09-12-2013
MrJenssen (editor)
StuntmanLT (editor)
Tetrobot and Co.

The Defence

Developer:
Swing Swing Submarine
Publisher:
Swing Swing Submarine
Genre:
Indie, Puzzle
Release Date:
23-10-2013

The Prosecution

CPU:
Intel Core i5
AMD equivalent
VGA:
Nvidia GeForce 8600
AMD equivalent
RAM:
4 GB
HDD:
1 GB
DirectX:
9.0c

The Case

From the creators of one of my favorite flash games, Tuper Tario Tros. and the original Blocks That Matter, comes Tetrobot and Co. Despite being a sequel to Blocks that Matter, instead of being a puzzle platformer, ditches the platforming for pure, puzzling goodness. The question is, will this be a welcome change or will it simply be a game that DOESN’T matter?

The Trial

15 years after the events of Blocks That Matter, Tetrobot, the all-purpose helper robot from the first game, has become a globally best-selling product. Of course with mass consumption of an item comes people who abuse and break it. Luckily, you play as Psychobot, a microscopic version of Tetrobot built by Myra, one of the only people in the world who can fix broken Tetrobots. You must travel inside these broken bots to fix them by manipulating blocks while collecting special ‘memory blocks’.

Donkey Kong, eat your heart out.

Donkey Kong, eat your heart out.

There is a sweet spot between casual fun that you play for a moment while waiting for the bus, and hardcore, “WHAT AM I DOING?”-type games like SpaceChem where you may spend an hour or two trying to find the solution to a problem. In this sweet spot, you spend time figuring out the solution, feeling like an idiot, but then when you solve the problem you feel like a genius. Tetrobot and Co. nails this dead on and requires some serious out of the box, or in this case, blocks, thinking to find all those memory blocks.

Each level introduces a new element that drastically changes the game and keeps it from ever feeling monotonous. Rather than taking you out of the game, explaining exactly how each block works, it puts you in a room that you need to solve, forcing you to experiment with the new element. If it’s a type of block, when you beat that room, you unlock an entry in “Faceblox” that briefly tells you a few things about the block, cleverly fashioned like Facebook walls, with things such as “Steel block has answered poll ‘Are you attracted to magnets with ‘Yes’.”.

The elements themselves are all varied and fun to play around with. Wood burns, sand turns to glass, slime sticks to everything except ice, and steel blocks lasers. There are also many other things to play with such as portals, cannons and electric fields. Everything blends well together to give a satisfying and challenging experience that never feels repetitive or boring.

Eat it, gamepads!

Eat it, gamepads!

The controls are just as good as the rest of the game. You click somewhere you want to go and Psychobot will automatically choose the shortest path to get there. This isn't always in your favor though, sometimes the shortest path will be through one of those things that zaps away all your blocks. Not that it’s a big deal because if you mess up, you can press the undo button and undo your last action, and if you feel like it, it goes all the way to the start of the level. You will never mess up beyond repair.

It’s a very nice looking game with a neat art style that makes its very blocky nature look natural, even with a spherical character running around. It backs that up with being very technically sound by being virtually bug-free. The soundtrack wraps it all together, somehow matching the art style and being lovely to listen to while solving games’ various puzzles.

The Verdict

Tetrobot and Co.’s only flaw is making my job harder because it’s very difficult to find things that are actually wrong with it. It is an absolutely satisfying experience from start to finish and has loads of content to keep you busy for hours on end. Buy this game, because it deserves to be a hit.

Case Review

  • So Much to Do, So Little Time: Lots of content to enjoy.
  • The Sound of Music: Fantastic Soundtrack.
  • Hit The Curb: A really forgiving learning curve that at the same time expects a lot from you.
  • Workshop Soon, Fellow Modders!: Steam Workshop and Custom levels are on their way, hopefully expanding the already good replayability considerably.
  • Casuals Need Not Apply: These puzzles are brainbusters and you better not leave your thinking cap at home.
  • Glitch in the Space-Time Continuum: Rewind is a tad glitchy at times, especially when steam blocks are interacting with fans.
5
Score: 5/5
Flawless from start to finish.

Appeal

Tetrobot and Co. starts with soothing electronic music, bright colours and funny little block puzzles. It ends with despair, hair-pulling and psychological torment. This new puzzler from Swing Swing Submarine will make your brain bubble with block combinations as you hover around as a robot inside other robots. A robot within a robot. Like Inception, but with puzzles and robots replacing pretension.

Your task as the tiny Psychobot is to retrieve broken memory blocks from within the larger Tetrobots, with each level containing three blocks to recover. You can progress through the level without finding all the blocks and still carry on, but you have to earn at least a certain amount of blocks to unlock the later levels. The memory blocks also unlock stories and artwork that you can access from the main menu to build the story of what is going on in the world around Psychobot.

Mechanics are introduced consistently throughout the game so that it never becomes either overwhelming or tiresome. Each level feels fresh and has something new to learn or to repeatedly bash yourself in the face over. What really shines through is just how well Tetrobot and Co. plays. It is a really well put together and well thought-out game that uses simple mechanics in really inventive ways. The crisp, colourful graphics, the soothing and catchy music and the well-honed gameplay come together into a really great game. Tetrobot and Co. is puzzling done almost to perfection.

5
Score: 5/5

Appeal

What is the best word to describe Tetrobot and Co.? Charismatic would probably be a good one. French indie developer Swing Swing Submarine seem to have put together something of a class act. This is only their second commercial game, the first being a cute and entertaining platformer called Blocks that Matter back in 2011. Tetrobot’s roots are very close to their first title, which heightened my anticipation to play the game that much more. This puzzle game is very simplistic in its approach: move the cute bot through the levels, manipulating blocks in order to solve puzzles. But even though the game is easy to pick up, logical thinking is required to overcome the challenges, working out how best to use the blocks effectively.

If you are looking for a fast-paced game, then Tetrobots and Co. is not likely the game for you. It’s a relaxed experience that you can take your time with, enjoy what it has to offer and just work the puzzles out. Perfect to unwind after a stressful day. A novel approach Swing Swing Submarine has taken is that they do not have any tutorials, but the simple design and some clever substitutes make it work well without becoming frustrating.

The thought that has clearly gone into the making of this game is quite remarkable. The puzzles are well-designed and match the level layout well. With 50 levels, the game definitely doesn’t feel like it’s on the short side, and gives good value for your money. Swing Swing created a very unique game, and being only their second title, they proved that they have what it takes to make it in this industry and keep producing quality titles. A must buy game for any puzzle fan.

4.5
Score: 4.5/5
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