Tiles from Romans I XVI Gaming
Tiles starts off with a simple enough premise. Move your square across the tiles. How many puzzle games have we seen with a similar mechanic and aesthetic? In Tiles, though, reflexes play as much a role as logic. The end result looks like a logic puzzler but feels like a twitchy retro action game.
Path of Wrath
The goal of each short level is to maneuver your glowing square from the starting tile to the finishing tile – the start and end points are colored in easy-to-understand green and red, respectively. In between, blue tiles disappear as you cross them. The catch? You’ve got to get rid of all the blue tiles before you touch the red end point. In later levels, this requires carefully mapping your path out ahead of time.
It certainly sounds simple enough, and the first few levels feel almost ridiculously easy. Soon enough, though, things get a bit tougher. Lighter blue tiles are the first to complicate things. Cross them once and they’ll turn into regular blue tiles, so you’ve got to cross them twice to get rid of them.
Add yellow tiles, which disappear and reappear once you start a level, and things go from simple to headache-inducing in what feels like no time at all. It’s not all bad, though – purples are pleasantly permanent platforms perfect for planning.
Speed and Take Heed
What sets Tiles apart from typical puzzle games isn’t the behavior of its titular building blocks, though. It’s the emphasis on speed and reflexes. Tiles flash for a second before disappearing completely, and players need to take full advantage of that. Levels often demand crossing and then re-crossing flickering tiles before they disappear, and speed is a necessity.
Add that to the need to suss out patterns of appearing and disappearing yellow tiles ahead of time – and reach them with impeccable timing – and suddenly Tiles starts to feel a lot less like a series of puzzles and a lot more like a retro action offering. Hitting a direction key one extra time and missing your landing point doesn’t feel like a lapse in logic; it feels like missing a jump in an old-school platformer.
Weirdly, the need for both precision and speed makes playing with a controller problematic. I couldn’t hit the sticks fast enough for some levels, whereas the direction keys on the keyboard registered my moves in time. The twin dependencies on quick reflexes and never missing a single move make Tiles feel almost like a high stakes rhythm game – one missed button-press and you’re done for.
Miles of Tiles
The difficulty can be a bit extreme on later levels – at times it almost feels like Tiles is the Super Meat Boy of two-dimensional puzzle games – but developer Austin Sojka, otherwise known as Romans I XVI Gaming – has built in a number of additional features for hardcore players.
In addition to the addicting challenge of beating a level and then trying to beat your own time, there’s also a level designer built in. Judging from the levels already being posted by beta testers, the game’s community is focused even more on punishing tests of speed and dexterity.
While players looking for a soothing puzzle game would be better served elsewhere – the pleasantly chirping music belies the game’s difficulty – players chasing after that high blood pressure rush that hits right before you lose a round of Tetris will be well served by Tiles.
Tiles is available via Steam.
Watch the official trailer for Tiles below: