Tiles is a puzzler that moves to the beat of its own rhythm; the story is vague and there’s little context given why you’re a small square jumping across bigger squares. What’s the purpose of this little square’s life? To prove all those other squares in college were wrong and that he or she couldn’t amount to anything? I had SO many questions, most of them unanswered. But at least I had puzzles to keep me occupied. Lots and lots of puzzles.
Your goal in life as a square is simple: jump on the blue tiles to reach the red one. While this sounds simple, you can’t cheat by just going directly to the red tile as blues tiles have to be touched either once or twice before they’re allowed to take the final descent into a back abyss. Thus, only when all the blue tiles are gone can you jump onto the red one, complete the level, and move on to the next puzzle.
Just don’t let those tiles fool you! In later levels they call on their cousins to trip you up on your quest to be the best little square you can be! They’re cheeky little snits, I had a confrontation with the orange tiles that would rise up and down when you’re working through an puzzle. You can only be on the orange squares for half a second before you have to jump to the next tile and not fall. If you do, the entire level resets and all you can do is to learn from your mistakes. There’s a metaphor about life in there somewhere, but I’m too lazy to look for it.
Tiles tricked me into thinking I was smarter than I was and there were many times I would glare at the screen pondering all the horrible square-related revenge I would get later. You go from learning about the mechanics and just going in a straight line to skipping over tiles to practicing skills you’ll need for advanced levels. Precision and timing are key like staying on a blue tile that’s blinking rapidly and timing your movements to an orange tile that’s falling up and down. Once the orange tile appears you have to flit across and time the drop of the blue tiles to get to the next part.
Other times you’ll be crossing over tiles that are about to fall to reach your destination and pray that you’ve got everything down pat. You’re on your toes constantly and pausing for even a second can mean game over for that round.
The only way to win is through trial and error, learning how to get through one part of the puzzle to progress to the next. It’s like dancing; I had to learn the rhythm of each puzzle and move in a specific sequence to get to the end. When I didn’t sequence right or just kept moving forward I paid for my error with an annoying falling sound that plunged my square into a pit blacker than my computer desk. You’re thrown right back into the beginning of the level to start over – no questions allowed. I got into the habit of starting each level by studying the new puzzle set before me and planning my movements before making a move. Victory!
My only gripe is there’s no option to switch to an analog stick, which means you’re stuck with using the D-pad to navigate. To be fair, I understand the design choice as you’ll need precision and timing to get through the levels. In that same vein, I had to put my controller down because my hand would cramp up from using the digital controls constantly. It’s really a matter of physical comfort, but I do wish there was an option to change controls instead of being locked in with just the one set.
Tiles is cheeky in its own way and I suspect someone on the development team has a sense of humor. When the falling sound occurs it’s loud and proud, announcing to the world you’ve once again failed at what should have been a simple task. With the ability to create your own frustrating puzzles and to try out creations from other players you’ll never grow bored. Puzzle enthusiasts should give it a go and see how fast they can solve (or fail) this intriguing square-based game.