GAME REVIEW: Tricky Towers – “Avoid It At All Costs”

Tetris is great, right? It’s incredibly simple, and yet can become devilishly addicting. Literally anybody can pick up a game of Tetris and begin playing, because the game manages to scratch that oddly satisfying itch of organising things with pixel-perfect precision. You fill a line, and it clears – everybody understands this, and it’s what keeps people coming back time and time again; no matter how many re-releases are pumped out on every single platform available.

Now, remove almost everything that makes Tetris fun, throw in some unnecessary ‘magic’ gimmicks, and a mundane, repeating soundtrack. What have you got? Tricky Towers, of course!

Tricky Towers has no shame in displaying just how much of a rip-off of Tetris it really is. Even the blocks you’ll be stacking are identical in shape and colour to those found in its superior influence. The basic premise of the game is that you’re a magician floating on a cloud, and you must rotate blocks as they are tossed at you by another magician in order for them to balance on a narrow platform until you reach a defined height, at which point the level ends. There’s also an ‘endless’ mode included, which continues throwing blocks until your tower topples over on itself, but it does little to bolster the meagre content on offer. The single player experience amounts to a collection of trials which rotate between three possible modes: stack the blocks until they rise above a line; stack the blocks in a manner that means they won’t hit a laser that’s hovering above; stack a set number of blocks without three of them toppling into the abyss. Rinse, repeat, and then swiftly delete.

Tricky towers gameplay

There’s not even an interesting graphical style or soundtrack which would have you coming back in place of horrifically dull gameplay. The visuals look like a child could have drawn them with crayons, but it’s not as if that’s the point, and we’re all meant to applaud them for being creative – it’s simply shit. And, not only that, but the developers have the cheek to offer a £2 bundle which will increase the number of playable magicians to above 4. This is bearing in mind that the magicians do literally nothing in terms of varying gameplay, and they are in fact a small sprite located on the side of the screen. Good thing that there’s a substantial ‘Wizard Shop’ panel on the home screen which takes you straight to this meaningless purchase, huh?

And I haven’t even begun to talk about how god-awful the stacking truly is. Just to reference Tetris again (because it’s great): In that game, your blocks all move within a defined axis, and move a single pixel at a time. This means that, whatever happens, if you fail then it’s ultimately due to you not being able to slot blocks together succinctly enough. In Tricky Towers, however, blocks have physics and can topple around. In theory, this sounds like a neat idea that makes balance a key part of the title. In practice, it means that blocks will randomly slide ever so slightly to the left or right, meaning that any blocks you attempt to place next to them will clip the top of the initial block and fall into the aforementioned abyss. Is this meant to be fun? Because all it feels like is a broken mechanic that was meant to give an already dreary game some semblance of creativity.

Because it’s a game that loosely presents itself as being about magic, Tricky Towers incorporates spells which are designed to mix-up the state of play. You might be struck with a spell which radically increases the size of a block, or have the ability to turn a block to stone so that it won’t move when placed. Sound enthralling? Because it shouldn’t – yet again, it’s a halfhearted attempt at making this game feel like something other than a poor excuse for a rip-off.

Unfortunately, this marks yet another month when the PlayStation Plus offerings on the Playstation 4 have been average at best. Last month’s Furi was good fun, but the roster has been gradually declining since the PS4’s launch. Here’s hoping that September’s titles justify the £40-a-year price tag, because Tricky Towers certainly does not.

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  • MonkeyJug

    Without doubt, one of the most pathetic reviews I have had the misfortune to stumble across in my almost 44 years of existence.

    Don’t give up your day job! Oh, that’s right…!

  • Other Mad Guy

    Disagree. Mainly because the argument seems to be that it’s a rip off of Tetris ands that’s … shallow analysis.

    You would think by now there would be a better vernacular around game review but most (like this one) read like a high school essay; it’s not a critique on how the game experience was shaped by the design (e.g. “The procedural generation algorithm used in this game shattered the illusions of the fantastical world of creatures the game promises”) but rather a report about what the author liked or didn’t like with very little explanation: “I haven’t even begun to talk about how god-awful the stacking truly is”

    Anyway, a game blatantly using another older games mechanics is not a rip off. Axiom verge uses matroidvania mechanics. Shovel Knight borrows heavily from MegaMan and other SNES / NES classics. We almost universally enjoy games like this, yet we know that games like BoxMaker are (in fact) rip offs. Why? Because rip offs offer nothing new and they Go out of their way to hide the similarities to the project they’re copying. if tricky towers have been Tetris except with all five more pieces instead of four black pieces then yes I would say it is a rip off… but it’s not that. It takes the Tetris mechanic and puts physics, multiplayer, and different fail states into the mix in a pretty inventive way.

  • Ayk Iano

    “Student currently studying Creative & Professional Writing (it’s just as pretentious as it sounds).”

    No shit. What pretentious garbage review. Tricky Towers and Overcooked are two of the best co-op games of 2016. And in terms of depth and strategy, Tricky Towers takes the cake. This reviewer obviously suck at the game. Just YouTube some of the trials to see people playing brilliantly and skilfully, demonstrating the well-designed systems of this game.