What happens when you combine Tetris
? A silly question for sure, and one that's always been a joke
to indie developer Bob Webb. But perhaps out of inspiration or little else to do but twiddle his thumbs, he went ahead and followed through with the joke. The result is a platformer that conjures memories of classic castle-exploring, classic puzzling, and the soon-to-be classic Thomas Was Alone
, another indie darling where human NPCs are represented by Tetris blocks.
That said, the organizers for this year's GDC made a strong move transforming the would-be empty space on the third floor of the convention floor into the indie booth showcase. Taking advantage of being situated between most of the summits, the foot traffic between panel sessions meant crowds huddling around each indie station and onlookers being enticed to play something new, weird, and possibly amazing. Out of the group of fifteen or so games shown at the installation, Tetropolis
stands out as one with the most potential.
As a rejected square-block due to a coloring error—one of your corners is painted magenta while the rest of you is neon blue—you roll along, as best that a square
can roll, hobbling and jumping onto each platform. Sometimes you'll need to maneuver around spikes, dodge flaming jets, or push a cart to reach areas that are slightly out of reach. As a nice touch, getting hit by a dangerous obstacle makes your block more and more transparent, instead of the more traditional health bar in some corner of the screen.
Where this basic idea takes a leap is in the ability to transform into other tetrominos along the way, with each block having unique powers and different properties. The square block itself is a sturdy configuration that can smash-drop onto the field, not unlike in Tetris
where you can drop a block instantly instead of having to wait for it to rickle down, whereas the line-block can turn itself into a spring that can launch itself over wide obstacles and onto a distant platform. Otherwise, some crawlspaces simply require that you turn into the narrow line to fit.
Taking everything a notch even higher is the control room, which flips the entire game
on its head quite literally. All of a sudden, the camera zooms out, revealing that all of the rooms that you've conquered are comprised of Tetris blocks themselves. Apart from the boss room and few other fixed areas, each "block-room" can be rotated and moved around, and as long as you align the entrances and exits of two block-rooms together, you will have assembled a path to reach a previously inaccessible room. On top of that, some switches and mashable exits might be in strange places on your first run-through of a block-room, like having a switch on the ceiling, but the control room allows you to flip the room completely around so that's no longer a problem.
Like a true indie title, Tetropolis
has been made by one full-time developer as well as the grace of a few of his friends like the 3D-modeler Joseph Petrick. He hopes to have at least four worlds in the game that are smoothly connected together in an overworld, and hopefully by PAX East or PAX Prime, he'll have started a campaign on Kickstarter for additional assistance so that the game is finished on PC, Mac, and Linux by 2015. I, for one, am ready to drop some of my money into the campaign if and when that happens.