Follow-Up to “Crash Course (ep. 20) – Blocks That Matter”

Blocks That Matter” is a fun little game that combines elements from “Tetris”, “Minecraft”, and “Boulder Dash” (the three games listed in the “Hall of Fame” achievement as inspirations). I would describe this game as “cute” without the smallest hint of sarcasm. The art style for the character portraits and cut-scenes reminds me of illustrations in some children’s books I had growing up (like “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs”); the visuals for the landscapes in the levels – as well as the blocks, slimes, and Tetrobot – are simplistic, bright, and colorful, as though they were drawn by a child with a set of crayons or markers; and the narrative itself is full of hokey jokes and silly dialogue.

It is a game without a single abrasive, dark, or mean bone in its body, and that’s actually quite refreshing to see nowadays when so many games are trying to be overly-adult and serious. Yes, it is important for the artform to push its boundaries – to show that it can deliver stories and experiences just as engaging and complex as the older, more established mediums such as books and film; but sometimes I want a video game that’s just a game. And this is definitely a game above all else. It’s amusing, it tests your skills with platforming and puzzles, and it doesn’t harshly punish you for dying or messing up a puzzle. The creators of the game want you to finish it without quitting or getting frustrated, and I think they did a great job creating an enjoyable experience from beginning to end.

Speaking of finishing the game, I clocked in about six hours of play before beating the final stage. That being said, I tried to get as many Blocks That Matter in the initial run through the game as I could, and that tacked on a good bit of play time. I played many stages over and over again because I wanted to get these BTMs, but I often had to restart because:

  • I would be careless and would die to lava or slimes
  • I would fall into a pit that I couldn’t get out of
  • I would be really, really dumb and trap myself
  • I would place blocks in such a way that would make it impossible to regather them
  • I would use or break a block too early that was necessary to solving a puzzle

So if I hadn’t tried to get as many BTMs as I could in the first run, and if I hadn’t shot myself in the foot so many times, I could have probably sprinted through all 40 stages of the story mode in four hours or so. I wound up coming out the other side of the game with 30 of the 40 BTMs and three starred stages (stars are awarded if you complete a stage with a large amount of blocks left in your inventory). After completing the story, I did sit down and beat the ten bonus stages that I had unlocked thus far. The bonus stages all either made you use the game’s mechanics in a different way than you’d previously seen or were just plain cool (like one stage that was styled after “Space Invaders”). The game also allows you to create and share levels with the Steam community, offering near-infinite replayability if you’re looking for more challenges after beating the bonus levels and gathering all the collectables and achievements.

All in all, “Blocks That Matter” was a pleasant experience that was well worth the five bucks it cost. If you’re looking for something a little more light-hearted that harkens back to the golden era of console platformers, this is the game for you.

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