Developer: The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild
Publisher: The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild
Release Date: 5th October
Price as of Article: $14.99 USD, £11.99 GBP
Tumblestone is a match 3 puzzle game, a genre not commonly known for including a Story so its refreshing to see the developer include one. Somebody has messed with the Tumblestones and you put down your sandwich and head out to figure out whats happened, along the way you come across a number of different characters and visit different lands across different times. This is all very light hearted and introduces you to the game mechanics in a fun way.
The Audio is fine but forgettable, the main song is kept quite low as more of a background hum than something that is a large part of the game. It would have been a nice touch to hear some more songs.
The game features some fun character design with a pharaoh, goblin king and my personal favourite – a sausage!
The Tumblestones themselves are nice and colourful and each world has a varied background. The presentation itself however is lacking, the menus are very plain and lack simple direction making getting around the game a little less polished than it could otherwise be.
The main stage for you to play on doesn’t seem to be quite the right aspect ratio and if you play multiplayer with just two people it squashes you onto one half of the screen as all four player slots are open when playing multiplayer. These flaws are small and do not affect the gameplay but it is noticeable and may put some players off.
At first glance this is your average 3 match puzzle game but this initial view is pleasantly incorrect. You will naturally start by selecting 3 Tumblestones and will very quickly hit a dead end, the board has a predefined set of Stones and you can shoot any of the Stones of the bottom row removing it and sticking it at the top of the screen where there are 3 slots and shooting 3 of the same colour will delete those blocks. Where the difficulty lies is in doing things in the right order as doing it in the wrong order will lead you to a dead end which will mean starting all over again.
Because of this the game plays a bit slower and more strategic than most similar games which is a nice change of pace.
The main Story mode is set over 12 worlds, each with 30 levels. Initially your goal is to solve a level by shooting the Tumbestones in the right order until all Stones are cleared. As you get further in you will find some levels have variation, for example some levels begin to spawn additional rows over time forcing you to think a little faster, others require you to solve 3 consecutive puzzles in order to win which are particularly frustrating as making a single mistake at any point will mean restarting from the first puzzle. As you progress you will find items that let you skip particularly annoying levels which is a good move as there are some steep difficulty spikes. The story mode is good and certainly has enough content however I did feel that you can see there is a frustrating side a bit like a mobile game such as candy crush and I felt like the game may have been designed with paywalls in mind for the freemium mobile version of the game instead. This didn’t put me off completely but I did find I needed a break from that mode after some time.
Outside of Story mode you have two other single player modes – Marathon is a straight forward play until you get overwhelmed mode which plays out nicely and Heartbeat mode which has spawning enabled making for a faster playing experience.
Multiplayer is a breathe of fresh air and where I found the game shined, you have a number of modes which are all enjoyable – Puzzle Race has you racing to clear your board and the first to clear the board wins. Tug of war has you clearing a board and for every four rows cleared your opponent has four rows added. The final mode is Battle which adds rows to your opponents board each time you clear a line.
The Switch is a great fit here as you can use a single joy con each and with the Switch on the move you can crowd up to four players around a single console. On the move the game works well and as it has very simple controls there are no complexity issues to deal with.
Where I was very disappointed was in finding out the game does not feature any online modes at all, as a game which I found best to play in multiplayer this is a big shame. Yes you can play multiplayer against bots and thankfully that works rather well but it isn’t a replacement. What makes it worse is knowing that the games was released in 2016 with Online Play included on the Xbox One, PS4 and even the Wii U. I can only assume the developer struggled to implement this into the game and the price was reduced a bit – perhaps to reflect this missing option.
The game is priced competitively and the single player story mode alone has over 300 levels representing a huge amount of play time. No Online Play does take away some of the Value here.