Reviewed on PC
Yet another inventive little puzzler finds its way onto Steam, this one from independent developer Austin Sojka. Tiles is an extremely minimal affair, containing little more than the eponymous coloured squares floating in the inky blackness. Reaching the final square offers only yet another, more taxing grid. Does it stack up, or will your time spent tiling only be riling?
The goal appears simple: to get from the start tile to the glowing end tile, eliminating all blues in the puzzle, which shimmer and drop away a few seconds after landing on them. Doing so is easy at first, but the game quickly makes matters more complex with different coloured tiles with varying new properties and winding layouts which double back on themselves. White tiles need to be stepped on twice before falling away, and orange tiles disappear and reappear at a set frequency. Yellow tiles drop after a set number of seconds regardless, and purple tiles don’t vanish at all. Oddly there’s no tutorial or explanation of what each tile does; the player is callously thrown in at the deep end and left to figure things out for themselves.
The path to a completed level then is comprised of coaxing out the logical solution, which then must be performed in a measured and timely fashion. There are several levels where the course to take is readily apparent, but the solution requires some pinpoint dexterity which fumbling sausage fingers may find a touch too much. Others may find you scratching your head in befuddlement at how each square can be visited only once. The precise timing required to evade these successions of dropping platforms requires a finesse and dexterity that will sometimes find you fumbling at the arrow keys if using the default keyboard. A puzzle game might not be the most obvious candidate to break out the gamepad controller for, but in this instance it’s a definite benefit and the support is there.
Those quick of mind and deft of finger who manage to beat the whopping ninety levels provided will no doubt have enough raw tiling experience to either challenge their friends with the simultaneous competitive mode, or even start designing their own levels using the included editor. That or they’ll go insane and start seeing tiles everywhere they look. The editor is straightforward to use and created levels can be published as soon as they are created and tested. Of course, each creator needs to prove their level can be completed before giving it a foreboding name and inviting others to take it on. Players can vote on how good and how difficult they find each other's’ trials, and then use the search options to find community levels big and small, straightforward challenges and mind-numbingly difficult brain-benders.
Let's get competitive.
The soundtrack bounds along happily in a loop, and while generally inoffensive it has the dated character of an online Flash game from the early noughties and may start to grate after a while; fortunately you can turn it off in the options menu.
Simple in appearance but hiding considerable content, Tiles provides an alternative challenge for those in need of a novel puzzle, or a quick game between games. It can’t possibly match up to the ostentatious presentation of The Witness, or the heartwarming story of World Of Goo, but for a budget brainteaser you could do a whole lot worse.