Puzzle games hold such a pervasive place in the industry these days, so it’s tough for a developer to design something new and creative, but Turba seems to tick all the right boxes. Developing team Binary Takeover has managed to do their best to create an innovative and addictive musically-driven puzzler that will keep you entertained for hours.
The set-up isn’t far different to most Match-3 puzzle games; the aim is to accrue the highest score possible by eliminating groups of 3 or more blocks of the same color on the grid. This is achieved by double clicking them in quick succession or dragging the cursor across and right clicking to clear them. What makes Turba stand out from plenty of similar games is the manual technique of clearing the grid of your own accord, giving the ability for the user to chain up bigger and better combos as you wait for more tiles to spawn. There are three levels of difficulty — casual, moderate, and intense — and they all determine the movement of the level for each song selection. Three different modes give the player the freedom to play how they see fit. These are Freeplay, which is good for a laid-back unhurried spree, and the more challenging Ascend and Descend, where blocks will spawn in from above or below. To make things harder, getting in your way are bomb-like tiles which explode if not cleared in the amount of time displayed, turning all neighboring blocks into black tiles that clog up the play field. Likewise, selecting the wrong block in a combo will also result in a black square and will lose you vital points. However, to make things more interesting, all three modes of play have a set of four common power-ups and one unique power-up to use to your advantage, one of which gives you the ability to knock out blocks and replace the color.
The game’s frantic pace feels extra exciting, and gives it that extra oomph. It’s easy to pick up and rack up combos and points, and it’s fun to challenge oneself again and again. The ability to customize your experience is fantastic, and even the most hardcore player will find new features open up each time they play. As well as a catalog of great, pre-installed music, the player has the ability to play along to their own music tracks. Turba‘s music selection seems to have something for virtually everyone. If you want to give yourself an intense challenge, pick a song with a high energy beat and crank up the difficulty level. Likewise, you can stick on a down-tempo song and keep it casual.
At first glance, the relationship between the beat and the amount of blocks spawning may be hard to make out, but after a while you see a pattern start to form. Getting yourself into a rhythm of clearing blocks to the beat can be tricky, as it’s hard to find a connection between the music and the actual flow of the game; in some ways it feels like the music is just a backdrop, as in any other puzzle game. Racking up chain combos on the beat can apparently heighten your score, but it’s sometimes hard to determine what you might think is the beat and whether the game agrees with you. When the play mechanics rely so strongly on the music, it’s one of those flaws you just find hard to ignore, but the prospect of bettering yourself helps to quell those feelings. What really sets Turba aside from other games of the same genre is the way each field of play changes according to the song, and the added ability to use your own music gives it that special touch. Although Turba descends from a long line of typical Tetris– and Bejeweled-style games, it’s well implemented and frustratingly addictive.
A word of warning: playing Turba on a laptop seemed a little tricky without the mouse, especially keeping up with the speed of and rhythm of the faster tracks. A game like this would be a perfect fit for a smartphone platform, especially after the growing success of Bejeweled for the iPhone. Turba doesn’t seem too far removed from that game’s mechanics, and could work in a very similar fashion.
Turba wouldn’t be easy to play once and then forget about, and Binary Takeover made sure of this. There’s plenty of content to keep going back for, including extra special powers and bonuses as you continue to play through, along with the added bonus of online leaderboards and a huge number of features to unlock. If you’re looking for something casual and you’ve got some time to kill, don’t pass over this fantastic steal. You’re guaranteed to keep returning for more, and listening to your favourite soundtrack as you play makes the whole Turba experience worthwhile.