Tumblestone - Review

Author: Mattia "Zave" Ravanelli
Date: 2020-07-30 16:23:57
What the hell will the stones do if they don't roll? Led Zeppelins asked for it just before the man discovered the fire. An old English-speaking adage reflects on it, coming to the conclusion that they only put a lot of moss on (or under, or on the sides). Then, however, there are also those of Tumblestone, more than anything else determined to ruin the days of Cleopatra and a small handful of other characters.

Okay, the narrative premise of the game of The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild, Tumblestone, is rather weak, but with some bright and abstruse exceptions removed, it's not exactly in history that the meaning of the existence of a puzzle game is hidden. Instead, which must, rightly, rely entirely on its mechanics, even better if organized around a single idea: simple, essential, dry, but also interesting and capable of guaranteeing depth and various interpretations.

Tumblestone is unable to fully comply with all these requirements, but it goes close enough and, if we want to say it, all, it succeeds in its main objective: to chain the player (or players) in front of the screen. Maybe for a period of time that was initially expected to be much shorter. But then you know how these things go: one stone leads to another and you're there to scratch your head, looking for the solution in front of yet another riddle as hard as rock. Because in fact Tumblestone has its own rhythm and requires a substantially different approach from a puzzle game à la Tetris or to many other members of the genre, more than ever protagonists of the few minutes of free time today that, with a smartphone in your hands, you have access to tons of CandyQualcosa and PuppySomething else.

The idea then, which is very easy to explain, for once in a while: in a classic screen with a well construction in the center, Tumblestone offers a fixed and unchangeable number of stone blocks, which fill that well from top to bottom . The player, equipped with a pointer similar to that of a Puzzle Bobble, can select a boulder among those present in the last row down. Purpose? Select three of the same color each time. Point. Finished. Very simple? Obviously not: you understand very quickly how the game pushes you to reflect with at least one move in advance: removing those blocks (i.e. selecting them and making them disappear), I leave space for those others ... but maybe I should select these blocks and then be able to "access "to those others still. Otherwise, after the first hat-trick brought home nonchalantly, you risk having to restart the puzzle. That will come back identical to itself, because they are pre-packaged schemes (and there are many, thirty for each of the many worlds).

This is the "basic" Tumblestone and it works. It cannot live from that typical adrenaline of a Tetris, with its elegant constructions and the ability to exalt when you get out of a bad situation unscathed, but it requires an interesting and also engaging and stimulating effort. Occasionally some sequence is too similar to the previous one, but oh well, it happens.

Then, if you want, there is the rest of Tumblestone, that is the multiplayer modes in local or online and the "alternative" versions (Arcade) for single player. Here things can change, with the blocks that maybe continue to descend from above and you are asked to survive as much as possible before they touch the lower end. In these cases, the game is still enjoyable, but it turns out with less personality and fewer ideas. Also desirable is the choice not to explain practically anything to the player, even when inserting blocks other than the usual whose operation is anything but intuitive (damn black stones!).

Around all this there is a graphic realization of an almost sensational poverty, with the same, embarrassing, backdrops that repeat themselves for dozens of levels. With sprites that bounce around because they lack any animation. With color choices from hands to hair. In short, from an "artistic" point of view (quotes), Tumblestone is a very bad web browser game. However, it must be said that the first work of The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild is offered free of charge to those who are enrolled in the Xbox Live Gold program on Xbox One and at 9.99 Euros on Steam. Be careful though! In both cases, only a portion of the game is brought home. On Xbox One the single player Arcade modes are linked to the purchase of a DLC (from € 4.99) and you can play the Story mode or the multiplayer ones. On Steam you can buy the Multiplayer Starter Pack (multiplayer mode only) for € 9.99, reaching € 22.99 for the complete package. Anyone wishing to play on Xbox One without going through the Gold program will have to spend € 19.99 (always excluding single player Arcade modes). Uff, nice mess.

I played Tumblestone after the free download on Xbox One and completed about 50 puzzles and spent a few hours trying the multiplayer modes locally. Worth noting is an Italian translation that, here and there, loses its pieces (don't worry about the "elastic", it's just an unfortunate choice to talk about the "rubber band" effect).