Tidalis Review

The puzzle genre is awfully crowded these days between free online games and full PC and console games, so it takes a real stand-out title with some unique gameplay and a variety of play modes to even get noticed. Arcen Games, known for space-battle RTS games, hopes it has found that perfect combination of accessibility and depth with their new block-busting title, Tidalis. Does this revamped formula sink or float in the sea of arrows and combos?

The flow of levels in Tidalis focuses on the relationship between a variety of colored blocks with arrows on them. Activating a block shoots a beam in the direction of the arrow on the block which will activate any blocks of the same color in its path up to two blocks away. The trick is that with the quick sweep of the mouse, the direction of the arrows can be changed to align chains in the preferred order. Like with Puzzle Quest, three must be matched in order to clear them from the board, but more is always better.


Falling blocks are immediately activated upon landing, which is where the depth and difficulty of Tidalis really starts to ramp up. In order to effectively use the falling mechanic (a necessity in order to complete a number of challenges), players have to carefully analyze the setup and be able to see three to four moves ahead. It’s about as tough as it sounds, too: a serious mental challenge, as well as a speed challenge for the Tetris-esque levels with falling blocks.

In terms of game modes, Tidalis truly excels in offering a wide array of approaches to the fairly simple concept. Within the competitive online play, the level creator, the exhibition mode, and the whimsical adventure mode, the puzzles branch into over 20 different styles, like the Zen mode (requires more patience and planned moves), Time Trial, and Jumping Bean just to name a few. Some add in different blocks that react in particular ways, like wood blocks that burn with red-block combos.

While most who play Tidalis will likely go straight for Adventure Mode (with over 110 levels), only to be whisked across an over-world map by some alien critters full of character, I found the real gem to be the almost 70 brainteasers. While there is no overarching gimmick stringing levels together, the puzzles have clearly been thoughtfully developed and will take an equal measure of thought to solve. And there’s a good amount of variety within the Brainteasers, so it doesn’t feel like a bunch of rehashed material.

It’s not like this kind of thing hasn’t been done before in a puzzle game, but add in the orchestration of lengthy chains for maximum points, not to mention some legitimately tough challenges framed by a good variety of modes, and it feels refreshingly new. While it may not blow you away with innovation, Tidalis is an addictive and often very challenging approach to a pretty stale genre.

3 out of 5


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Author: Dan Crabtree View all posts by
Dan is Managing Editor for GamerNode and a freelance gaming writer. His dog is pretty great. Check him out on Twitter @DanRCrabtree.

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