For decades, game developers have attempted to iterate on the classic Tetris formula, with very few finding success. The classic tetromino-based gameplay has remained timeless, offering a blend of simple gameplay with a high skill cap.
Tricky Towers looks to put its own spin on the classic puzzle genre by adding real-world physics into play. This means as the blocks fall, placement and speed are a factor. Many of the gameplay modes have you working against another player or against the clock, so planning is hardly an option. Often times, the gameplay becomes a frantic mess of placing blocks and hoping your tower does not tip over as it grows in size.
Tricky Towers is primarily meant to be played competitively against another player, whether that’s locally on the couch or in an online match. There are three primary game modes to choose between, each offering a distinct gameplay difference.
The first game mode is “Race Battle” where you attempt to build your tower as quickly as possible towards a finish line in the sky. As you build, you are periodically given spells that can be cast. There are light magic spells that can be cast to help you or your tower out, or you can opt for a dark magic spell that is intended to hinder the progress of your opponent. But, it’s important to choose carefully, because you can only choose one at a time. This offers a bit of a risk-reward mechanic depending on what spells are displayed, and how well your opponent reacts.
The second game mode is “Survival Battle” which gives you a set number of blocks that must be dropped and assembled. There is no time limit in this mode, instead, you are given a limit of three mistakes. So, you have to be a lot more precise in this mode, because once your tower topples three times, or you lose too many pieces, the game ends. The winner is determined by how many blocks successfully remain standing.
The third and final game mode is “Puzzle Battle” which has you assembling as many blocks as you can below a designated cutoff line. There isn’t much of a penalty for losing pieces, other than docking your score a bit, but once you place a piece that crosses the horizontal cutoff line, it’s game over for you. Your opponent continues to build until they cross the cutoff line as well. The player with the most pieces placed below the line at the end wins.
Each of the aforementioned modes can also be played in an “Endless Mode,” which allows you to play against yourself and achieve a high score. There are leaderboards visible in each mode if you are interested in chasing high scores of other players in the world, as well.
There is also a single player “Trials” mode in Tricky Towers, which is the closest thing you’ll get to dedicated solo content. This mode includes a set of 50 trials, with each increasing in difficulty. Many of these trials are like preset puzzles that allow you to develop and refine your skills. Since the game is lacking a true tutorial mode, this mode effectively allows you to practice bite-sized versions of the individual game modes. While it would have been nice to see a bit more in the way of content, these trials do offer a genuine challenge for players new to the game.
Tricky Towers originally launched in 2016 on PlayStation 4 and Steam and was ported to Xbox One about a year later. Since the game did not arrive on the Nintendo Switch until late in 2018–more than two years past its initial release date–it may be difficult to find a bustling community online. During the playthrough for this review, matchmaking was almost nonexistent, with only a single player seemingly online looking for matches. So, if you’re looking for a primarily online puzzle experience, this may not be the best option.
Tricky Towers truly shines in local cooperative play, as it is a party game at heart. Four players can play together, which makes for some great moments. Getting reactions from your friends as you select the perfect spell to foil their tower-building plans is nothing short of amazing. You are bound to have some tense and frustrating moments while playing this game.
There is an in-game shop for those interested in cosmetic changes for the game. Some of these cosmetics offer new playable characters, which are nothing more than an in-game avatar that can be seen during play. Other purchasable cosmetic packs offer new skins for the bricks, such as Candy Bricks, Holographic Bricks, Galaxy Bricks, and more. None of these packs impact the gameplay in any way, they just give you some different customizable options if you are so inclined.
Overall, Tricky Towers offers short, chaotic puzzle battles between you and your friends with a few different game modes. The addition of different spells adds some variety to the traditional puzzle formula. There is very little in the way of single player content, so if you don’t have anybody to play the game with, you may find it runs its course for you in a relatively short amount of time. Also, because the game came to Nintendo Switch so late, there is hardly an online community to play against, so expect long matchmaking queues if you intend to play online.