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Puz: Triptych [by Chronic Logic]

Game Review: Triptych
Release: May 28, 2003
Genre: Puzzle
Developer: Chronic Logic
System Requirements: Pentium II 466mhz, 32MB RAM, Windows or Linux
Price: US $14.95
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Chronic Logic is probably best known for their bridge building games Pontifex and Bridge Construction Set, which use complex physics to determine if a player designed bridge will collapse or be successful. Now the developers have used their knack for physics effects and applied it to a Tetris-styled game. Would the end result “Triptych” be able to stand out in such a stale, overcrowded genre?

The same rules apply here as for any game of this genre. Groups of blocks fall from the top of the screen and collect at the bottom, if three or more blocks are touching one another then they are eliminated and the player scores points. There is a line near the top of the screen that if the blocks reach it then your game is over. Your goal is to eliminate as many blocks as possible, in as high a number of combos as possible and keep advancing in levels and difficulty.

The key selling point for Triptych is that all of the blocks in the game have soft body dynamics attached to them. In the simplest terms, think of it as if you were stacking Jello Jigglers on top of one another. It sounds gimmicky (and it is) but it’s also a heck of a lot of fun.

You can rotate and reposition blocks for a short time and try to guide them into place. The big difference in Triptych is that since the blocks are jelly-like they aren’t locked into position once they’ve fallen. You can use momentum to slam new blocks down and cause the old ones at the bottom to bounce up and shuffle into new positions. You can also use rotation to kick up blocks and ricochet them off each other. For such a simple design aspect, the addition of physics completely changes the nature of the game and for the first time in a long time I found myself actually enjoying a “falling block” puzzle game.

Graphics: 7
The graphics are professional but very, very subdued. There are faces mapped onto the blocks that react when they are smashed together and I found that to be a nice touch. More of that humor and a lighter feel would definitely suit this game well. As it stands the graphics serve their purpose but don’t have any personality and therefore don’t add any extra enjoyment to the game.

Sound: 5
What few sounds there are in the game are purely functional. There are sounds for blocks colliding, a sound for the timer counting down and a sound for finishing a level. That’s pretty much it. It’s one thing for sound design to be understated but another for it to be virtually non-existent. There is no game music.

Game play: 8
Whatever Triptych lacks in graphical and sound flash it makes up for in pure game play. While it’s true that this is “just another Tetris game” you will be shocked at how much the addition of the “squishy” physics completely changes the classic game. Forget matching the blocks, I could spend my time just watching them smash into each other and bounce around the screen.

Options: 7
Triptych gives you options for resolution, defining controls and switching the sound (what little there is) on or off. There are two different styles of game, normal and ultra, which are basically the same but with special “power” blocks in the ultra version.

There are also 4 different difficulty settings but to be honest I didn’t perceive much difference between them - if there is any difference it is very subtle. Concept: 7
As I mentioned, the soft body dynamics on the falling blocks adds an entirely new dimension to the game play and is one I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. Chronic Logic definitely deserves recognition for trying something new and breathing life into the tired standard genre game play.

Fun: 8
Put it this way; when I first saw that I would be reviewing another falling block game I groaned so loud my girlfriend thought there was something seriously wrong - like I was about to vomit. Triptych fell into my lap and fought a crazy uphill battle in order to get me to like it and in the end, I did. I guess that means you could say this game is fun.

If there is even a tiny part of you that ever liked this style of game (before the genre became hellishly over saturated) then Triptych may just hook you, no matter how jaded you have become.

Overall: 8
If you had told me a few weeks ago that I would be giving an overall score of 8 to a Tetris game I would have called you a damned liar! While I found the overall sound and graphics design to be too sedate I think the gameplay wins out over any such shortcomings.

There is something so simple and yet so much fun about slamming those squishy blocks together, using momentum and rotation to try and wedge them into combos that I can’t believe no one thought of it sooner. Something tells me that Chronic Logic has set the new standard and it won’t be long before soft body dynamics becomes a feature expected of all games of this genre. Recommended!

Added: November 17th 2003
Reviewer: Kyle Nau
Related Link: Official Website
Hits: 8570
Language: english

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