Towers of terrors.
Physics-based puzzlers Tricky Towers presents a blend of the block-falling mechanics of Tetris with the gravity sim that is Art of Balance, all coming together to make for a frenzied party title.
Just like Tetris, multicoloured blocks fall from the sky and you need to take charge of exactly where they land in order to score points. Totally unlike Tetris, the blocks aren’t contained in a narrow case, and instead must be dropped onto a plinth, which is still particularly narrow and doesn’t lend well to allowing you room to stack multiple pieces side by side. As such, you need to demonstrate the Jenga-like stillness of hand you used in Art of Balance to ensure your tower doesn’t come toppling down. Again, just like in that latter game, there’s nothing quite like watching your tower slowly topple when there’s nothing at all you can do about it to blow your frustration through the roof.
Taking on up to three friends in person or going up against the world online, you can play each of the game’s three core modes, the race (self-explanatory), the puzzle mode – fitting every single shape in a list onto as short a tower as possible so it doesn’t get totally incinerated by a low-lying laser beam – and survival mode, which has a set number of blocks which must be used and a set number of errors you’re allowed before you’re given the boot.
While the emphasis here is best placed on the multiplayer action, there are levels to keep you going if you’re playing it on your lonesome. The series of one-player levels, or ‘trials’, offer a new take on the game’s tower-stacking modes. This single-player area is where you can take part in online leaderboards, with endless versions of the stack-a-thon offering you the opportunity to post high scores. But the game is certainly better with friends.
Tricky Towers is tricky indeed – when the pressure is on and you’re stacking shapes as quickly as you can when you’re taking on another tower-builder, it’s so easy to misplace just one shape and pole-axe your tower, before promptly doing exactly the same thing on your second attempt. The game encourages quick-thinking and ingenuity. It’s never truly predictable either, even when you’ve managed to get used to all of its modes.
Its characters, which are wizard-like things, have the powers to suddenly turn blocks absolutely massive, which can put a mega-sized spanner in the works of your tower plans and force you into immediate recalculations. They can also turn blocks to stone, having the effect of establishing a new immovable plinth midway up your tower – but of course you still need to have placed it in an effective spot. You can also make use of this magic yourself in multiplayer, with one button for light magic that will strengthen your tower, and another for dark magic which can throw mist across your opponent’s view so they can’t fully see where their blocks are landing.
Whether you’re racing against the clock or against another player, Tricky Towers is frantic throughout. Players will need a cool head, or frustration will take over – but as a party title, there aren’t many games as easily accessible to play in a group situation.