TetDraw’s obvious inspirations can’t help keep it afloat.

TetDraw is an intriguing puzzler that attempts to combine the sophistication of graph paper puzzles with the spatial puzzles of Tetris and other similar games. It’s charming in a fifth-period math class kind of way, chock-full of special activities to help you better understand the relationships between shapes and puzzle pieces.

It’s like walking up to the board with a piece of chalk and demonstrating what you learned in class for the day. Studious, contemplative, and somewhat entertaining, TetDraw is a quick exercise in shape-drawing that isn’t exactly up to par with other offerings out there.

With some bizarre sentence structure and a wealth of quick tutorial lessons, TetDraw makes an admirable attempt at engaging players. On a sheet of virtual grid paper, you can draw any shape you’d like. If you can see it in Tetris, it’s fair game. The name of the game is clearing blocks and lines that intersect. Each puzzle finds you placing shapes in a predetermined configuration so that they intersect with the pieces already in place. This can be done with a zig-zag line block completing a horizontal line or a straight block intersecting a vertical line. It sounds a little more complicated than it actually is.

TetDraw     TetDraw

Early tutorial puzzles offer possible pieces to complete the stage, but later on the difficulty is ramped up considerably. Often it becomes frustrating to attempt to reach the score threshold required to advance, as looking for a solution is tiring. There’s little to focus on other than pastel-colored Tetris blocks and the “scribbling” noise accompanying your drawings.

Since you’re relegated only to completing shapes that can fill the voids you’re looking for, there’s no way to goof around and draw shapes when you simply can’t figure out a solution. More complex stages require much more fiddling about with different configurations – there’s little else to focus on, keeping TetDraw better for chunks of play time here and there rather than setting out to clear every stage at once. It simply can’t keep your attention that long.

Because of this, I only played a few levels at a time, until one afternoon I noted after having cleared the tutorial stages and coming back after a day or so to play the main game levels, my progress had been erased. The work of a bug? Perhaps. Funnily enough, in a bid to bypass the tutorials rather than having to sit through them again, swiping a finger across the grid and filling in the spaces with possible “shapes” worked just as well as actually trying to play the game properly – but there’s no fun in that, is there?

Mechanically, the game is quite sound. Touch control is precise and flows well, especially since tracing shapes is pertinent to success. A calming soundtrack is nice enough, but there’s little in the aesthetic department to speak of due to the “DIY” nature of it all. The tree that grows as you progress is an interesting touch, however, and can grow into lovely forms. As far as the rest of the game goes, grid paper and pleasing enough titles abound, but nothing too inventive to speak of here.

TetDraw is an interesting concept and simple enough to get into, but it lacks a certain immersive quality that would keep players gravitating to it rather than, say, an endless runner or a more polished puzzler. Additional content, new game modes, and even a bit more gamification could be used here to turn it into a more polished product. Perhaps a few updates could propel it further toward its influence’s puzzler status.