“What game are you reviewing this week, son?”
“No! TETRA’s Escape. It’s a puzzle game where you need to move and manipulate blocks to complete the puzzle and help the blocks escape.”
“No! Forget it!”
A little insight into my family there. Moving on.
TETRA’s Escape does involve the manipulation and movement of blocks, and the title of the game isn’t a million miles from ‘Tetris’, but the similarities end there.
The story unfolds to bring a tale about a bunch of little Tetras that have all been sucked up via a portal to an unknown place; they must work together through a series of levels to reach the next portal and hopefully get back home.
Gameplay is a combination of puzzle solving mixed with a little bit of platforming. The Tetras can shape-shift into Tetraminos to then be used to plug gaps in the level or create bridges and steps for other Tetras to walk over. Each level also contains three stars to collect – and then a fourth collectible that only appears after the three stars have been collected – so Tetramino placement is also useful for collection purposes.
Players can only control one Tetra at a time and once transformed into a Tetramino cannot be changed back – at least not in the early levels – so it’s advisable to always keep an eye on other Tetra placements until required. There is nothing worse than having to restart a level because you’ve blocked off one of your Tetras.
Each level starts with a pre-requisite number of Tetras, and are colour coded for ease. Many levels have a grey Tetra – and it could be argued this is the main one – as this is the one that you typically use to navigate the level with, mostly on account of it not being able to transform into a Tetramino. Other Tetras are then colour coded and can transform into the same Tetramino. Most can transform into several in fact, which means your way of completing a level may not be the same as someone else’s. That’s a sign of a good puzzle game – offering multiple solutions rather than one specific option.
The game does a good job of keeping things fresh by introducing new ideas such as lava and ice paths, but these are only used a couple of times towards the end of the game before not being utilised again, replaced by yet more obstacles. Another idea, that of bombs, are used to reset a Tetramino to allow it to be moved and placed again – thankfully these are used far more frequently after their introduction and add a necessary layer of difficulty.
Other mechanics brought in include further manipulations of the Tetraminos, such as being able to rotate them and flip them over. This can cause a bit of frustration because it can get a bit fiddly when you know what shape you are looking for and where you need it, but cannot rotate them into the correct way.
Similarly, frustrations occur when lining up the Tetra before transforming. You think you have it in the correct spot, but when transforming you are unable to do so because it cuts into the surrounding border. This is only a minor issue but the transforming mechanic certainly needs to be communicated better.
TETRA’s Escape sees all these gameplay ideas spread over eight areas, each with eight levels included to allow you to free the Tetras. Sadly, other than this, the game offers nothing else at all. Whilst the levels are varied enough, there aren’t any other modes to talk about.
Despite the cutesy graphics and general kid-friendly gameplay, the later levels do present a decent challenge. In fact, the true difficulty is not necessarily found in the completion of the levels themselves but rather working through them and picking up all the collectibles too.
Weirdly, after completing the sixth area, there are no more of those precious achievements available for completing the latter areas. In fact, after finishing the sixth area, you’ll probably only be requiring one more achievement – that of saving 200 Tetras in total. This then ensures that TETRAs Escape is a very easy game to complete, and should only take a few hours. It’s then your decision whether or not to finish the remaining two areas.
Priced at £3.99, TETRA’s Escape is a cheap and cheerful puzzle platformer that is executed pretty well. Once you get the hang of it, it shouldn’t offer too many problems in the completion of the levels but finding all the stars and trophies will require a bit more brainpower. Whether you are looking for easy Gamerscore or a colourful game to challenge the little ones, you could do a lot worse than TETRA’s Escape.