Tetrobot and Co. is a delightful puzzler from Swing Swing Submarine. It is well put together with crisp visuals and a fantastic soundtrack. This not-so-little puzzler may have you scratching your head at times, as its challenging and rewarding levels keep you engaged for hours.
Playing as a small robot, you must move through each level. The game is completely controlled by the mouse as you move through pipes and manipulate blocks of various substances. The blocks are key to the game, coming in various types, each with their own unique characteristics. For example, metal blocks stop lasers while wooden blocks burn and set adjacent wooden blocks on fire. Blocks of the same type stick together, letting you counteract the laws of gravity at times.
Apparently, the game picks up from a previous title, Blocks That Matter. However, as I never played that title, I didn’t worry too much about the story or plot of the game – most of it went over my head anyway. Luckily, the story is hidden away in a journal, so if all you want to do is solve puzzles, you don’t need to be bogged down in the story about the red-headed scientist fixing robots. That said, it would have been nice for the story to make a bit more sense without playing a previous game; I kept feeling like I was missing something with the story.
Also tucked away in a journal is the Facebook parody, Faceblox, that serves as an amusing guide to the different types of blocks in the game. The Sand Faceblox page includes things like “Sand commented on a link: Whoah, it’s so hot that I’m going to turn to glass!” while the TNT Faceblox page reveals that “TNT liked a game: Splosion Man”. In this way we get some cute Facebook satire that includes hints about the nature of the different blocks.
The levels make use of the blocks to solve puzzles, with new block types being added in each section. Each level also has three memory blocks which can be obtained by solving more difficult puzzles. These certainly add to the challenge of the game – I was often able to complete the levels, usually with at least one memory block, however getting all three could be rather difficult. Additionally, after completing the five levels in a particular group, you reach a “boss” level wherein you need to get a key. These keys pose an even harder challenge to obtain, and open access to new chapters and levels.
With simple controls, the challenge of the game comes from manoeuvering through each beautifully crafted level. While the design is minimal, it’s not barren or lacking. Rather, it appears polished and complete. I particularly enjoyed the music; I frequently found myself jamming to the music. Composed by Morusque, I would actually pay for this soundtrack with its awesome use of bass lines and electronic melodies.
There are some problems with the game, of course. My biggest frustration was that there seemed to be no way to cancel an action. Sure, you could unwind if you messed up, but I often found myself going back and forth through pipes unnecessarily because I had miss-clicked. Additionally, the pathing AI was occasionally a bit wonky – it would lead my bot to trigger switches that I didn’t want triggered simply because of the path. Of course you can work around this by clicking around the switch before letting the AI get you across the level, but it can be irritating.
Tetrobot may not alter the way that you see indie games, or innovate the puzzler genre, but it certainly is a lot of fun and will happily take hours of your time as you endeavor to solve each level with all the memory pieces. Tetrobot and Co is available on Steam for PC, Mac and Linux.