Tilt and shake your way through match-3 puzzles in Vizati
There comes a time with every half-decent puzzler that you want to give the game in question a mighty good shake. The frustration that burns within whenever you hit a mental brick wall just can’t be contained – you’ve got to let it out some way, some how. How about a title that lets you thrash it about a touch, then? Does Vizati’s willingness to get all shook up make it any more placid?
In truth, Vizati’s match-three set-up is just as vexing as any puzzle title out there when things aren’t going your way, even if it does like a bit of the rough and tumble.
The concept, like any proficient puzzler, is especially simple. Taking charge of a maze-like square filled with other smaller squares, your job is to manipulate it so that said matching colored blocks meet up within a set number of moves.
The squares themselves come in groups of three -albeit jumbled up across the map, so Vizati’s challenge comes from managing to link them up in their respective trios without the other blocks getting in the way.
The problem is, there are only a set few things you can do to shift the blocks around. Tipping is probably the most common move; tapping left or right on the keyboard or clicking either side of the main square with the mouse causes it to tip 90 degrees in your chosen direction. Naturally, doing so also results in the squares inside to reacting to gravity, their position and order shifting in the most dramatic fashion.
If a 90 degree turn isn’t enough, however, it’s also possible to flip the entire map 180 degrees, sending the blocks falling from floor to ceiling in one short move.
But if only a subtle shift is required, Vizati also lets you give the squares a quick jolt, causing each and every block – where possible – to shift one square left or right. Sometimes this is all that’s needed to shuffle the pack just enough to bring the colors together, each match up disappearing when in contact and clearing the way for further links.
Success comes from finding the right balance from level to level. While it’s always tempting to mix things up majorly by tipping or flipping the main square, this can often be more trouble than its worth. Likewise, even if matching squares are in close proximity, a quick nudge or two can prove fruitless at times.
Even though it all appears self explanatory, Vizati isn’t especially forgiving for newcomers. The tutorial – which takes the form of a few succinct info-laden tiles before play begins – makes the mistake of telling you how to control play without letting you know why you’re doing what you’re doing.
It makes the early stages a case of learning through doing. Given that Vizati‘s only punishment for failure is replaying the level in question, that’s perhaps not too bad a set-up, but play would certainly benefit from a more extensive introduction.
Likewise, if you get stuck on a particular level, all you have for help is your own noggin. Overlaying play with condescending tips and tricks would admittedly have been a mistake, but some kind of opt-in hints system would greatly extend Vizati’s life for those who find it harder to find their rhythm.
Regardless, Vizati does come with a certain amount of charm, and there’s even more to sink your teeth into once the arcade mode is unlocked. Here, the ste-up is shifted somewhat, with blocks being added to each map until you manage to clear a set number of squares. With the clock counting down, it brings a sense of pace to play that the main mode – no doubt intentionally – lacks.
Indeed, it’s the gentile nature and subtle story that decorates Vizati‘s mind-bending main mode that sticks with you, above everything else. With the square itself sat somewhere in the countryside, life actually goes on around you during play, with passers by reacting to its movements and setting off the whole of play with an unusual, but nonetheless memorable, context.
Though such a unique setting does not a good game make, it certainly helps illustrate that Vizati is a product of passion, rather than a quick puzzler cash-in. Indeed, it’s likely a bigger outfit would have flooded play with unnecessary help files and annoying pop-ups. Even so, Vizati could do with a signpost or two to turn what is already a good little puzzler into a truly great one.