Ever curious as to what Tetris blocks do on their days off? I mean think about it, they have to do something when they are not falling down the screen waiting for you to place them into a nice organized matter for them to disappear into oblivion. Maybe they like long walks on the blocky beach or possibly their favorite block-inspired restaurant. I am sure their life is quite extravagant when they are not working their butts off to help you get that sweet high score. Or maybe life isn’t what it seems for are cubical friends.
TETRA’s Escape is a puzzle platformer developed by ABX Game Studio and published by Ratalaika Games SL. It tells the stories of a group of blocks known as Tetras on their mad dash to escape. Escape what, you may ask yourself. Well, that is never brought to fruition, so we will just assume they were being oppressed to fulfill someone’s block-filled necessities. This journey isn’t all that straightforward and not all your friends are going to make it. Will you sacrifice the few to save the many? Or will you be stubborn and make sure no shapes are left behind. Warning: Some Tetras were harmed in the making of this review!
This interesting title is comprised of 64 levels stretched throughout 8 different worlds, each with their own unique environment and hazards alike. Starting you off easy, the first world gives you the run-down of the mechanics and presents no hazards. Just a nice stroll through the grassy landscape on your adventure to save your rectangular pals. However, all isn’t so pleasant when you come near the end. Ice sheets, lava pits, and dastardly falls all plague the way and navigating them will take some planning before running head-first towards the exit.
The gameplay mechanics take notes from other puzzle platformers but adds its own twist by having the playable characters manipulate the environment by becoming part of it. Each Tetra has a set block that it can become, with a few being special and having multiple transformations. This provides the possibility to mix and match the path to your playstyle, there is always more than one way to complete your goal. Possibly my favorite mechanic in TETRA’s Escape would be the flexibility and freedom provided to the player to complete the level. In most games, if the main character perishes to an untimely death, the level is over, and you must restart. Hell, some games are so strict that even when an NPC dies, you get a game over. This game, on the other hand, requires you to make some difficult choices and sacrifice a Tetra here or there to make sure the others can survive. Just be careful, one too many deaths will yield failure nonetheless.
The visuals and soundtrack were both decent; however, I found the visuals to be more enjoyable and fitting to the experience. This title was bright, colorful, and filled with childhood whim throughout. I felt that I had stumbled into a coloring book as I had not seen colors and shading presented in a video game the way they were here. It wasn’t complicated, and it was not breaking new ground, but it stood out well and my eyes were immediately drawn to the sheer difference to games today, even those marketed towards children. Graphics can be hit or miss for me, but even when a game seems simplistic, adding a splash of color (or a wave in this instance), it really makes the experience pop.
TETRA’s Escape was definitely not on my radar and when we received the code, and I was doubting much potential would come out of it. At the beginning of my playthrough, I completely agreed with this early assumption and planned on chalking it up to be another average title that someone should go into with low expectations. However, as I progressed something clicked. I do not know if the colorful world made up for the middling gameplay, but I continued on and was actually a bit sad when the story came to the end. This wasn’t the best game I have ever played, it isn’t even the best puzzle platformer that I have played recently. I did enjoy the game though and I feel that more people should give it a shot. The game is only $5 USD, so if you can I would pick it up. The possible delight it offers definitely outweighs the price.
*Note: A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of the review.
Final Score: 8/10
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