Blocks That Matter is yet another game which takes advantage of the quickly-growing mining genre in gaming. It is more of the same in terms of the games industry’s obsession with mining as of late, yet something completely different in the way it blends elements from some of gaming’s most memorable titles and still adds its own unique touch.
Developed by Swing Swing Submarine, the game begins with “gaming’s greatest new invention” getting plenty of attention. The developers run into some trouble after refusing to disclose details on the invention, which is later revealed as a Tetrobot. The developers open up a communication channel with the device, and so gameplay begins.
Gameplay has been described as by the developer Boulder Dash meets Tetris meets Minecraft, and that is how it plays. Taking advantage of the prototype machine, players must drill through different types of blocks, which in turn places the blocks in your inventory. Then, the blocks must be placed around each level to create a pathway to the portals, which bring the player that much closer to his creator.
There are some exceptions to the rules outlined above. Firstly, blocks can only be placed using the game’s live-editor. With this editor, the player may place blocks in groups of four only, and blocks may only be placed adjacent to already-existing blocks. As with Minecraft, some blocks adhere to the rules of gravity (eg sand), and some can stick side-by-side with other blocks (eg stone and wood).
It is a very odd system. The group of rules is complex at first and gets harder to grasp as new abilities are introduced to the player. This isn’t helped by the fact that the editor is well-separated from general gameplay and slows things down immensely. While the game is a port from a console game, the lack of mouse support for block placement is puzzling – it completely slows down the pace of the game.
The at-times slow pace is not particularly a bad thing – the game is relaxing and atmospheric. However, instead of leaving players to muddle around with annoying control schemes, use of the mouse should have been implemented purely for the sake of flow and fluency.
This is one of the few flaws with this game. There is enough puzzle elements to offer versatility without making the player feel like he has to deal with too much. Additionally, the puzzles are genuine head-scratchers! Even as early as 25% through the game’s story, you might be Googling solutions.
Beyond the general storyline, which serves simply as justification for why the player is even playing, there are a number of unlockables in each level, obtained by reaching the finish line with enough blocks in the inventory, or by accessing hard-to-reach areas which really make you use your brain. By obtaining secret materials, you unlock even more levels.
It really does require a healthy number of hours to beat this game – and even then, you’re not likely to put it back down. Beyond the adventure and bonus levels, there is a level editor and a huge amount of community-made content, which will boost playtime by hours! There really is no reason to stop playing.
Mostly, this is because of the level design – community-made puzzles will always require different ways of thinking if success is to be found. But the real reason players will keep logging on is because of the atmosphere set by Blocks That Matter. The soundtrack, which can be altered at any time, features an abundance of smooth, mellow tunes and comic sounds which drag you into BTM’s makeshift-Sweden. The visuals are soft and charming. Overall, the experience is relaxing from start to finish.
Perhaps the reason this game has such a capacity to be successful is because it offers frustratingly difficult puzzles in an amazingly relaxing setting. The level design is sublime, offering a difficult experience for even the most seasoned puzzle gamers, yet the difficulty-curve and community content ensure that anybody can give this game a crack. If you’re a puzzle gamer, or a fan of Tetris, Minecraft, or both, be sure to check out this title!