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:platinum:#1,272 PS5 version of Thunder Kid 2: Null Mission

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:platinum:#1,273 PS4 version of The Jumping Hot Dog

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:platinum:  518

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Tetragon

A small-scale puzzle game, and first effort by Cafundo Creative Studio, Tetragon is a curious little game, and one which, given the total player-base of 52 (at the time of writing) between both SKUs, is seemingly almost unknown on this site!


Narratively extremely bare-bones, the player takes the role of a woodsman whos son goes missing in the dark forrest. Setting out to find him, he find himself delving deep into a curious, geometric world in which gravity is malleable, and with the aid of mysterious lantern he is gifted by a woodland spirit, (and against the threat of some kind of spirit entity which has apparently kidnapped the boy,) he traverses the concentrically spiralling, angular world, by manipulating gravity, and the pillars that make up the geometry.


Tetragon is a puzzle game through-and-through - while there is some basic narrative here, it is about as minimal - and marginalised - as a narrative can be while still maintaining the facade of one. That is not necessarily a bad thing within the genre, of course - puzzle games can have great stories, but they rarely require them. Really, the actual investment in Tetragon is not in any way driven by the arc of the character or his plight, but simply by the player relationship with the puzzles themselves. Tetragon would work almost exactly the same as it does if it was entirely abstracted, with no narrative hooks, and so while the narrative here is very simple and unengaging, I don't really hold that against the game in any way.


Visually, the game has a distinct look, and while graphically it is very basic, it does get the job done. Levels never really look stunning - or even close to that - but there is a nice visual palate to the game, and some nice design flourishes here and there. I actually really like the background design to levels - future levels can be seen slightly askew and warped in the background of the current one, giving a foggy "infinity mirror" effect that is both nice to look at, and apropos, given the "decent into mystery" the game is predicated on - even if the actual geometry of the levels themselves are quite basic , and really, these are purely cosmetic. Little can be gleaned about the future level in these warped images, just a basic shape, but it's a nice touch nonetheless.


Audio has a similarly workman-like quality - it is fine, never grating and occasionally haunting - but never particularly stand-out.


The puzzles themselves are, in fact, very good for the most part. The game is rarely ever truly fiendish - I'd wager even the less puzzle-minded of players could traverse even the more complex of them in a relatively timely fashion, and without the need to resort to guides, as, despite red herrings, there is often only a few possible ways to go at any given point - however, the game is more than capable of throwing in occasional moments of confoundment.
There are some collectibles in the game - two types actually. One, (the ghostly after-images of the protagonist's son,) are generally easily found along the "main" path of puzzle completion, however, the second type - "fragments of the Tetragon" often require a rather more elaborate puzzle to be solved within the confines of the main one. 
This kind of puzzle-within-a-puzzle is not an easy thing to get right, and I actually think Tetragon does a good job with these. Given that all Puzzle Rooms in the game are single, static screens, each collectible is visible right from the start, and so devising puzzles that work as a main traversal, have an alternate solution, and still manage to maintain a reasonable and sensible difficulty arc is laudable.


Gameplay essentially boils down to creating traversable paths through the level by manipulating movable columns within it. By using his lantern, the woodsman can "slide" these columns back and forth, creating platform which he can traverse, usually to a sort of plant/totem which can them be used to "swivel" the world on its axis. By manipulating the column positions, and turning the world round and round, a path through a seemingly impossible level to traverse can be created.


Where the game stumbles though, is not in the design of the puzzles themselves, but in the controls, and the player input required to solve them. 
There seem to be a litany of small issues that just tend to compound to detract from the fun of the puzzles themselves.


Firstly, control of the columns in a level becomes rather laborious on console once levels with large numbers of them become the norm. Selection of the specific one to be moved within a level requires the player to "cycle" through them one at a time, in either clockwise or anti-clockwise fashion until they reach the right one. This is something of a necessary burden on controller. I do know on PC the selection can be mouse controlled, which would solve this issue, but on console, it really slows the pace of the game down. 
(Actually, it's worth noting, when playing, I assumed the game had been designed for touch-pad controls... I was flabbergasted when I discovered it does not exist on iOS or Android. The game feels tailor-made to work on an iPad, given the single-screen nature of the puzzles, and how well the column-sliding mechanics would translate to a screen-drag... but apparently this isn't the case!)


Secondly, there is the awkward, slightly confusing control scheme on the woodsman. Controls are relatively stiff generally, making the movement feel a bit finicky and plodding, but for some reason, the baffling decision was made to have different button inputs required depending on the height of ledge or platform being climbed. If the ledge is 1 or 2 "Blocks" high, the player has to push towards the ledge to traverse it. If it is 3 blocks high, however, the player has to stand beneath it, and press "up". It might seem petty reading that, but it's incredibly unintuitive - particularly in a game where ledges are not always measured in exact increments. A ledge that is "2 and a bit" high... you tell me? 
I played the entire game twice, and at no point did I ever stop halting at "inbetweeny" ledges, simply because I was pressing the wrong input!


Those things - coupled with an occasional issue wherein the gravity spins on an axis, but the camera fails to follow it (a glitch I experienced a couple of times,) tend to slow down the game, and make if feel a little half-baked, even despite the decent puzzles.
The puzzles will most likely carry a puzzle-enthusiast thorough the game in spite of them though, and while glitches / stiff controls are an annoyance, they are easily dealt with, and only tend to interfere around the periphery, rather than genuinely cause issues with the puzzles themselves...

...until the last level.


I very rarely bring up specific levels in these reviews (I think that's even rarer than my mentioning trophies at this point!) but I need to in this case.


The final, "boss" level of Tetragon... is an abomination. 

 

The game switches, suddenly, to a style of game it has never even hinted at before - the action puzzler. Suddenly, the game needs the player to adhere to strict timing as they control it... and so all the control issues that were merely trivial annoyances before, become genuine problems.


The level requires the player to survive, while setting up level geometry to reflect incoming attacks as they hide and run...
...but the game simply cannot cope with it. 
It seems to glitch more, (I had three or four times more stuttering or glitching issues in the final level than the rest of the game combined,) the level is incredibly long with elements of randomness often placing the player in hopeless, unrecoverable positions, and with the stiff controls, becomes incredibly frustrating to navigate. 
(I actually think the developer seems to understand it's a problem, as they change the fall damage model without any reason or in-game justification, beyond the simple, (and clear,) understanding that the level is already extremely frustrating and prone to issues, even without deaths by falling.)


It is, actually, a pretty clever idea for the boss, but just terribly implemented - and serves as the worst possible closing point for the game. It highlights all the negative aspects of the game, and none of the positives, leaving a relatively sour taste in the mouth of the player as they finish...
...and to make matters worse, for the platinum hunter at least... 
...the level must be done twice!


A shame really, as overall there's a solid set of fun puzzles here - and for the most part, I'd say anyone interested, who is able to deal with the occasional bit of jank could do a lot worse than Tetragon... but I have to caveat that by pointing out, that last level is woeful!

 

 

(For original review and Scientific 1f609.png Ranking see HERE)

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:platinum:#1,274 PS4 version of Burger Fun

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:platinum:#1,275 PS5 version of The Jumping Hot Dog

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#656 - Rock of Ages 3 (PS4)

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6.66% Very Rare

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Two plats today!

#657 - Team Sonic Racing (PS4)

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4.14% Ultra Rare

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:platinum: #47 - Ben 10: Omniverse

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Difficulty: 2/10

Fun: 6.5/10

 

I watched the various Ben 10 shows a lot as a kid, so this game looked decent enough and a bit nostalgic. Surprisingly enough for a licensed CN game (without an Adventure Time license that is), this is actually a decent way to kill 3 hours if you're a fan of the franchise. Hero difficulty is piss easy though, didn't really provide much of a challenge except in a very select number of spots, but oh well. It's geared towards 10 year olds after all.

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Platinum #66

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl

 

Quick and fun little game that took me back to my childhood by bringing some characters from beloved series. Enjoyed the arcade mode, however having to complete it with ALL characters became boring after some time. The online mode was a bit laggy and also prone to shutting down the game, but otherwise I had fun playing it.

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