Triptych takes you on a quick trip to outer space with Columns-inspired gameplay and bouncy physics.
Several years ago Chronic Logic decided to test the waters of the puzzle genre with a falling-blocks title that’s both familiar and unique at the same time. Think of Jell-O in outer space and you’ll have just that: a game of colorful blocks that defies the laws of physics and takes you on a trip to the next Tetris-style experience. While connecting blocks is oftentimes an overused blast from the past, at least Triptych has a life of its own.
As mentioned, Triptych is yet another puzzle game where players must match three or more pieces of the same color to charge them up with energy and make them vanish. The energized pieces will last for a few seconds on the screen and transfer the charge to any other blocks of the same color they manage to touch. If you’ve played games like Columns, Lumines, or Super Puzzle Fighter, you probably know what I’m talking about, although Triptych offers a nice twist that makes things a little different.
First of all, you’ll be surprised at the way pieces fall and bounce off others. Although they’re falling down just like you’d expect, the blocks move at the mercy of unpredictable physics. They don’t just fall and form a perfect rectangle with what’s on the board; they fall, bounce back up a bit, and eventually lay down wherever, once they find a comfortable spot. Falling blocks can affect the ones that are already on the board, making them move and even ricochet off the walls in unexpected ways.
Since players can use the keyboard keys (A and D) to turn falling pieces around and make them go up or down, they can use a bit of strategy to match the incoming blocks with others of the same color and even find their way into what’s already there. A good blast against a group of blocks may move things around just the way you want and even help to cause chain reactions with the remaining energy charge.
The amount of time you have till a piece settles down and the next one shows up varies depending upon the level of difficulty and if you had saved up some extra time. You can do this by placing the previous piece quickly and then hitting the space bar. This can lead to some interesting combos and extra points if you act fast and keep up with the bonus, which goes up as you make blocks disappear. If you play in Ultra mode rather than Normal, there’ll be special pieces that take on the color of the first block they touch or are automatically energized from the time they start falling down.
Without a doubt, the gameplay is the one thing Triptych has going for it, as the presentation is rather uninspired. To be fair, the game is a bit old now, but despite the many faces drawn over each falling block, the visuals lack personality. The outdated look of the game and its bland interface won’t make you happy… not to mention the meager sound effects (beeps and all) and non-existent soundtrack, which make it feel like an Atari 2600 special! But, of course, that’s not what it’s all about.
While the game’s not incredibly original, it meets the standards of addiction that puzzle game enthusiasts have come to expect. Triptych is not one to play every day, but it will be fun while it lasts. Just know that its age does show.