Simple And Clean
Tiles has to be one of the most simplistic games ever made. Composed of nothing more than colored squares on a black background, the goal is to reach the red tile while stepping on every blue tile along the way. In a weird way, it is almost like a flat version of Q-Bert only without enemies.
“Simple”, however, should not be mistaken for “bad” as Tiles is mindlessly addicting. There are nearly 100 stages to complete from the developers with each set growing in difficulty. Reaching the red tile is easier said than done as there are other tricky tiles along the way. Some tiles disappear, some fall away after a certain amount of time, and some blue tiles have to be stepped on twice. Even though it takes a blue tile about one second to fall away, the player can, and must, use a fraction of a second to reach the next tile during the falling away animation. This, combined with the use of other hazard tiles, can create some interesting and challenging stages.
One of the best features about Tiles is the included level creator. Since the gameplay is so simple, the level creator interface is also pick-up-and-play. In fact, there are no tutorials in Tiles and there is never a need for one. The level creator allows any user of any skill to create an easy or challenging stage with ease. Further, stages can be uploaded and shared with the world with the tap of a button, just as long as the player tests the stage first to prove that it can be finished. Playing uploaded stages from other users is also very intuitive and painless as levels can be searched by difficulty, viewed the most upvoted, or even search by ID number. Uploads are instant and so is playing any available stage – no loading or waiting of any kind. It is also worth pointing out that two players can play cooperatively. Before any stage, the player can optionally choose to play each stage with a split screen perspective. However, co-op play doesn’t involve helping each other reach the finish line. Instead, two players play the exact same stage and both must complete it before advancing. This optional mode probably won’t be used very much but it is there if you wanted to play a few stages with a friend.
As simple as Tiles is, there are a couple things that ultimately hold it back. First is the d-pad only controls. Best played with an Xbox One Elite controller’s 90 degree d-pad option, the player taps in any of the four directions to move. However, since many stages require speed to complete, especially if aiming to beat the par times, tapping the d-pad over and over gets tiresome quickly. I would have much preferred to use my right thumb to tap the four face buttons to move in each corresponding direction instead of use my left thumb to mash the d-pad. If you watch my stream embedded in this review, you can see that I easy kill myself often due to the twitchy d-pad controls. My other complaint is the level of progression. In order to play stage 10, the player must complete stage 9, for example. The problem is, stage 9 might be really difficult and might want to be skipped. Forcing the player to play each and every stage in order isn’t user friendly and needlessly hinders the overall entertaining value. Also, there is only one audio track that loops continuously from the moment the game is started. Even though this track is light hearted and bubbly, eventually it will grow annoying if you plan on playing a long session; the transition from the end of the loop to the beginning isn’t as smooth as it should be too.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Tiles is eventually ported to anything with a screen as the gameplay, interface, visuals, and controls couldn’t really be any more simple. Like Tetris, Tiles proves that you can still have interesting and addicting gameplay even with the most simple of visuals. For only $3.99, Tiles is easily recommended as a purchase especially considering that all online functionality is included, nothing is barred behind a DLC paywall, and Achievement hunters can enjoy a slew of easy Gamerscore.
Not As Good As: Super Mario Maker (Wii U)
Better Than: Chicken Wiggle (3DS)
Also Try: Mario Paint (SNES)