Puppies don’t like being crushed
It’s amazing in this day and age that someone could find a new way to twist the classic Tetris falling block gameplay. To its credit, Petrix does just that. While the normal conventions of filling up a line to remove it from play hold true, that’s no longer truly the task at hand. Nope, this time we’re building a path for puppies!
Pieces drop from the top of the screen and can be moved and rotated just like always. However here what you really need to do is create a bridge that the puppies on the left side of the screen can use to climb across to an opening on the right. Getting them across safely is what gets you points for, not clearing lines. You even have to work around them as they crawl across your dropped blocks, being careful not to crush them!
The dogs are able to jump and climb a 1 block hurdle, but anymore and they get stranded. There are occasional bonuses you can employ to “unstick” them, but once they’re jammed in there, it’s pretty tough to get them out alive. Dropping blocks on top of them crushes them (in a little splat of blood) and clearing a line they’re on zaps them to death. It’s a bit of a macabre spin on an otherwise sweet style.
Boy oh boy, is the graphic style in Petrix bright. Everything is loud in-your-face bright with mixes of blue, yellow, pink, green – nearly every color in the rainbow. The game looks like a clown exploded on someone’s color palate and they just decided to go with it. For the most part I’d say it works just fine for the kind of game it is (especially with the little puppies jumping around), though personally, I’d have taken something slightly more subdued.
It’s hard to get your mind from slipping into the usual Tetris type mode. I’ve played so many house of those line-clearing games that I can play them while barely paying attention, some sort of Zen like existence. But in Petrix that’s almost counter-productive since you really need to find a way to maintain a certain amount of lines without clearing them, all the while avoiding the dogs climbing across the playfield. It was refreshing to play a line-clearing game so differently, and the little animations of the dogs climbing and jumping always made me laugh.
There is, however, one major flaw with Petrix – the controls. Once the blocks start falling at anything above the starting speed it’s hard to rotate and position then confidently. The pieces tend to over rotate or shift from side to side instead, misinterpreting your intentions. To make the block drop down fast, you double-tap the screen – but even that sometimes resulted in the game doing something else. While a great concept, the controls meant Petrix became little more than an exercise in frustration.
Petrix is a fresh and unique take on the line-clearing puzzlers that’s we’d happily give a much stronger recommendation to if it weren’t for those loose controls. A patch could easily fix them, so that’s really what we’re holding out for. In the meantime, Petrix is little more than a brilliant premise marred by a weak control scheme.