*DISCLAIMER: ALL VIEWS IN THIS REVIEW ARE MY OWN AND DO NOT COME FROM THE COMPANY THAT HAS KINDLY PROVIDED THE GAME*
Tiles is, “a unique action-puzzle game that will both convolute your mind and burn your finger tips!” – Steam Page
Tiles is the first game published onto Steam by the developers Romans I XVI Gaming. Previous to Tiles, they have developed games for the Roku multi-media system; these include Snake, Neon Party Games and Retaliate (this last one being the first game, which was also published to IOS along with the “kid distractor” Harper Sparkles). Going back to Tiles, this game was published on the 20th March 2017 and currently stands at 100% positive out of 24 reviews on Steam. After researching all of this, I found myself curious as to what Tiles could offer and at the very small price of £2.79 ($3.99), I was delighted by how much content the game seemed to offer.
The games simple premise is that you go from point A to point B whilst removing all of the blue blocks on your path.
The Main Game:
The main game consists of 90 pre-made levels going from very basic to ridiculously difficult. These are split into 6 chunks that are 15 levels long each. As mentioned above, the aim of the game is to get from point A to point B. Whilst digging through the games files, I discovered a tutorial overlay image which wasn’t in the game. I have decided to cobble together a estimation as to what the tutorial would have looked like as I think it explains the premise very well.
As you can see, the layout is very basic, but what the developer’s have done is take this simple idea and make it into something incredible.
As you progress the game, you encounter a supply of different versions of block; these are as follows:
- Blue tile – Objective tile that take one hit to eliminate
- Light-blue tile – Another objective tile that take two hit to eliminate
- Yellow tile – Obstacle tile that disappears forever after a pre-allocated time
- Orange tile – Obstacle tile that disappears and reappears after set intervals
- Purple tile – Checkpoint tile that never disappears
- Green tile – Start point
- Red tile – End point that will result in death if you haven’t eliminated all of the objective tiles.
The combination of these tiles results in a surprisingly difficult puzzle game that will lead to many keyboard being broken (DISCLAIMER: No keyboards were harmed whilst playing this game).
There is an option to play up to 4 person local-multiplayer and this made me curious as to how they could implement that into a game like this. After some investigating, I discovered that are enabling multiplayer, whatever level you select, if will split the screen and a race will ensue to see who completes the level first.
At first, I thought that this was a great idea, but after some more digging about, I realised that it isn’t very well implemented at all. The actual function of racing the other player is there, but after completing, there isn’t a button to progress to the next level and there isn’t separate timers for each player (there actually isn’t any timers at all). What you are left with is a pointless addition to a game which could have benefited from this feature.
What I would like to see in the future is multiple versions of the local-multiplayer. Some of the these ideas include:
- Timed version where after completing a level, that player progresses to the next whilst the other player is still on the other level. This means that a player could catch up to their opponent even though they are behind.
- Co-op levels that require 2-4 players to complete. This could incorporate a new trigger block where after standing on it, it opens up a wall block which lets the other player progress in the level.
The game comes equipped with a fully customisable level editor. This is beautifully designed and offers a great way of creating your own levels which can be played by other players.
I had a few goes myself and I was quite happy with the turnout. If any of you would like to play my levels, the IDs are as follows:
- Maze 1 – ID: 1051
- Obstacle Marathon: ID: 1095
If you happen to beat these levels, please be sure to put your best times in the comment section below.
After players have created these beautiful levels (or in some cases, stupid levels), they are available to play and rate. At the time of writing, there are currently 97 levels available and I have completed every single one of them (hence the 18.2 hour playtime). This means that along with the 90 levels that are currently in the official game, there are over 90 other levels which you can play made by other people. This doubles the play time and makes the replayability infinite (or as long as the servers are active).
A small problem that I have with the gameplay is that the last level is pretty disappointing, I won’t spoil it, but for those who have played the game, you will know what I’m talking about.
Though Tiles is very simple in premise, the execution of the quality is at quite a high standard. The textures are all sharp and instead of the player block being a solid white colour, the middle is slightly transparent which gives a slight change to the character depending on the block the player is currently standing on.
The level design is also pretty good with the difficulty progression being very well balanced other than the last level which seemed to be a cool down for the player and an easy finish line to cross. The inclusion of player created levels also adds a lot of content to a game which you can complete in around 3-4 hours for your first play through. That being said, I would like to see the addition of the fastest times for those levels and possibly a replay of that time with the programmers simply having to save the 100 or so inputs required to finish the level and replaying it back to whoever accesses it. A way that I think this could be done is by collecting these inputs, whilst playing, in a simple text format locally, and if it is the fastest time, it uploads this to the server where on replay, it will launch the level, block of player input, and replay the text files inputs. However, I understand that this would lead to the elimination of the puzzle solving and so I propose adding a safe guard in where you can only look at the fastest replay after you have completed the level.
For a game like this, you have to design responsive controls or the player just feels out of control; which for a game like this, can result in the player not wanting to continue playing. I kind of felt like this after the first half hour and I was purely blaming the controls, however I was wrong and naive in my approach. In reality, it wasn’t the fact that the controls were rubbish, I just wasn’t used to the style of moving one block at a time and I kept overshooting the platform by 1 or 2 places. This slight difficulty curve might result in players not going past the first 30 minutes, but I thoroughly recommend continuing as after the 18.2 hours I have currently played, I bloody love it.
A small problem that I have with the game is that you have to physically enable the controller option to use the controller however even with controller option enabled, you can still use the keyboard. This led to me having the gamepad option enabled constantly as nothing was negatively affected. For this reason, I think that you could remove this option and simply have the game detect whether a gamepad input is pressed and simply change the design prompts accordingly.
There isn’t much to say about the music/sound because the game seems to have a short supply of them. For the entire game, there is only one music track titled, “chill”, that is only 2:45 minutes long and for a game that can last 4 hours on the first run through, it can become very repetitive. However, I discovered that simply putting on your own music through streaming services or physical/digital copies, it would fix this problem. That being said, I would like to see more original music composed for the game.
Following the same pattern as the music tracks, there isn’t many sound tracks as well. The only ones which you can hear throughout the game are the death sound and the victory sound. Having a dig through the game files revealed another sound called, “move”, and after reading the XNB file, I realised why they didn’t have it in the game. It was a very basic thud sound and as you are moving really quickly in the later levels of the game, this thud would get particularly annoying.
What I would like to see in the future is possibly a sound effect for navigating the menu, because at the moment there currently isn’t one, and I would like to see more music tracks added to the different sections of the game.
Tiles, for me, is a perfect example of a love/hate relationship. When I first started playing this title, it infuriated me and I was so close to abandoning ship all together. However, with perseverance and a lot of finger cramp, I completed the entire game with most of the achievements (apart from the impossible achievement which is perfectly named). I think if any player gives this game enough of their time, they will learn to love it and revel in its difficulty. There are issues however like the fact that there is only one music track on a loop for the entire game, or the issue that there is no leaderboard for levels on the custom maps. That being said, the level editor is wonderfully designed with only a few additions which I would like to add; and add to the game all together:
- Leaderboards for custom made maps and replays of the fastest times
- More music tracks
- The addition of a trigger block that opens up another block
- More official levels with new block mechanics
- Different types of local multiplayer like a full timed version where you go from the start to the end of the game racing other players. Another type could be a whole different set of levels that can only be completed in co-op mode. These would have to incorporate the trigger block proposed above.
“As far as upcoming updates, I would say the main thing is that the game is also coming to consoles, Xbox One and PS4 for sure. I’ve already got the Xbox version up and running great and I just need to integrate Xbox Live features like achievements. Also, it should be noted that a big feature of the game is that when the Xbox and PS4 versions are released they will share the same back-end as the PC version, this means that the user created levels system will be fully cross platforms. Levels created in Windows, Mac, Linux, Xbox One, and PS4 will all be shared amongst each other, so if you created a level on the Xbox your friend on PC can play it :)” – Austin Sojka – 07/04/2017
|Gameplay||Completing a hard level feels great and there are a lot of user made levels available.||No fastest times for user made levels and not a replay button.|
|Quality||Sleek design and responsive controls when you get used to them.||Having to enable controller instead of picking it up; and storing inputs can be annoying.|
|Music/Sound||Not much to say other than the fact that the one music track is high enough quality.||There is only one music track which is quite short and loops constantly.|
Review by Sam Elliott