Tidalis

And now, for once, a game in this promotion that I didn’t finish in a single day upon first attempting it. Just as well: casual stuff of this sort is best played in little bits between other things. This will be another brief post.

Tidalis, which seems to have been titled at random, is a match-3 game, with the genre’s stereotypical bright colors and elevator music. Its defining gimmick is that the three or more tiles you’re matching don’t have to be adjacent. They do, however, have to be connectable in a chain where every step is horizontal or vertical and skips over no more than three spaces. Each tile has an arrow on it, indicating where it’ll look for the next step in the chain. The arrows are not limitations: you can re-point them at will. As such, they are an indication of what you want. This means that game is a bit more thoughtful than most match-3′s. Elaborate cascading combos don’t just happen: you have to meticulously set them up, tile by tile. (The designers were thoughtful enough to streamline this: you can set all the arrows in a chain with a single continuous stroke of the mouse, and not upset other chains in the process.)

This mechanic strikes me as well suited to gameplay without time pressure, so that the player has the leisure to analyze and perfect each move. And occasionally there’s a level like that — “Zen mode”, the game calls it. But most levels either have a strict time limit, or keep on adding tiles to the board from the top and end the level when they pile up too high, Tetris-style. Maybe I’ll like the “brainteasers” section better, but the Stack demands a playthrough of Adventure mode.

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