Tomb Breaker: The Adventures of Aria Brite Review
From game designer Kurt Bieg comes Tomb Breaker: The Adventures of Aria Brite; a puzzle solving game in the same vein as Bejeweled, but with gameplay mechanics varied enough to allow it to stand on its own. While the game does have above average presentation value, its semi-frequent lagging and shallow design keep it from being truly great.
The game begins with Aria Brite asking the player to assist her in solving an ancient puzzle, followed by surprisingly good, tone-setting music and visuals reminiscent of ancient Egypt. The game’s style and presentation do a fantastic job of setting it apart from the myriad puzzle games similar to it; however, it does have its shortcomings. It doesn’t take long before you realize the game only has one music track, and while it’s not bad to listen to, it would have been nice to hear something different every once and a while. Similarly, besides throwing an occasional comment or two at the player, Aria falls silent for the remainder of the game. This is especially disappointing considering the decent amount of voice acting present in the opening sequence.
Gameplay consists of having the player connect tiles of similar color to each other in order to remove them from the screen, gaining the player points and causing more randomly colored tiles to appear. Instead of eliminating tiles by moving them next to each other, such as in most puzzle games, the player must draw a line connecting tiles of a similar color from opposite ends of the screen, chaining the tiles together. The player can chain the tiles together by drawing the line up or down, left or right, but not diagonally. For example: touching an orange tile causes all the opposite colored tiles to temporarily vanish, allowing the player to easily see the remaining orange tiles and plan out how to chain them together. You can quickly chain together two or three tiles for some easy points, however; if you want to score big, you’ll have to chain together at least four tiles to build up your combo multiplier. The two main strategies in the game are to achieve “clears”, which consist of eliminating all tiles of the same color from the screen in one chain, and “crossovers”, which are done by causing your line to cross over itself when chaining together tiles. You have to think carefully about how to connect the tiles, and you have to do it fast, for the game only allots the player sixty-seconds to score as many points as possible. For the most part, the game works exceptionally well, although the occasional lag does tend to occur. While it isn’t enough to completely ruin the experience, it is frustrating to see a chain get cut in half and lose out on big points.
An image of a gem is located on multiple tiles, which indicate that when used in a chain, the tile will allow the player to collect gems that can be saved up and used to purchase power-ups. Power-ups vary from adding additional time to solve a puzzle, to giving the player the ability to start with a 2x multiplier. Up to three power-ups may be used at once, but they have a finite number of uses, so use them wisely. If you don’t have the patience, or in my case the skill, Tomb Breaker contains micro-transactions that allow the player to buy as many gems as their heart desires.
Though the power-ups offer some variety to the gameplay, the rest of Tomb Breaker significantly lacks depth. You’re simply stuck with repetitiously playing an arcade mode and there’s no other game variation, competitive multiplayer, or even a choice of difficulty. The game offers competitive leaderboards that connect to the user’s Facebook or Game Center profile, but that’s about it. There’s no story to be followed or grand puzzle to be solved. For a game that contains adventure in the title, it is certainly lacking any type of depth.
Final Toast: 7.0
Tomb Breaker is not a bad game by any means, it’s actually quite good. Its core mechanic is a refreshing take on a familiar formula wrapped in impressively stylized presentation values that help to set it apart from the crowded puzzle genre. Although, its severe lack of any real depth is what keeps Tomb Breaker from being a must own game. You won’t lose hours of time playing it, but it will make waiting in line much less tedious.