Arcen games recently announced Tidalis, a match three style puzzler with a unique gameplay element for the PC that adds 2 player co-op play to the genre. We sat down with Arcen games producer, developer, and owner Chris Park and got the details on how the co-op would work.
Chris told us that co-op has always been at the forefront of the design of Tidalis, and that quite possibly every game mode will be playable in co-op. The main draw of Tidalis is going to be the adventure mode which will have at least 80 levels to it, and possibly up to 200.
Each level isn't going to provide the same type of co-op play, you'll have to adjust your strategy depending on the goal. So in one level you might find yourself cooperating by item use, in another by generating pieces for your partner, in another simply by working toward a common goal, and in another some combination of the three general styles. There may be cases where your partner needs a piece to complete his level, and the only way he can get it is by you completing something on your side of the screen.
So what are these items like?
They act like items in the Bomberman sense - temporary powers that let you change the state of the current level. There might be one for destroying all the blocks of a certain color for your ally, or for stopping time for your co-op partner to help them survive if they are about to lose. As you earn items through your own play, they'd show up next to your well, and then you could choose when to activate them based on how things are going for your partner and vice-versa. Once the level is over, then you'd start a new level fresh and would have to earn any new items there, that is, if that level had items as a part of it.
It's these kind of puzzles and item use, the ones that not only exist on your side of the screen, but cross between screens that make the game cooperative.
Believe it or not, the game will also offer drop-in and drop-out play through the adventure mode. You'll be able to jump into a friend's game at any time and help him complete levels, or a different friend can jump into yours. Best of all all of your progress is persistent regardless of whether you are playing co-op or single player.
While Tidalis is offering somewhat of a more traditional co-op approach online, the game does offer an offline co-op mode as well. Players would use a combination of mouse, keyboard and gamepad to work together in any of the game modes, even some of the PvP modes, adding a ton of flexibility to what Arcen can do to the game.
As always when I sit down to work on the co-op design for a game, I simply think "how would I want to play this with X person." With Tidalis having such a broad appeal, I could see playing this with friends in more of a multi-computer fashion. I could see playing this with a younger kid, or in a group setting where people swap in and out, using the single-computer play. My family loves doing that sort of thing with Luxor and similar puzzle games, but "co-op" consists of excitedly shouted advice there.
In the end, with this game, there was just almost no point where I realized that co-op wouldn't fit in one fashion or the other. Thus I feel pretty confident in saying that the fully finished game here will support co-op to a degree not ever before seen in any other puzzle game.
-Chris Park, Arcen Games
Arcen's policy has always been about including co-op gaming in their titles. In a genre that's traditionally a solo or versus affair, they've seemed to find a niche' way of including co-op. Along with the adventure mode, quick mode, and versus modes - the game will ship with a level editor for user created content. It seems Tidalis is an ambitious title, especially for a puzzle game.
Remember the Beta starts up next week for pre-orders, though it won't include any of the online co-op portions just yet. Expect to see that in the coming weeks with regular updates to the beta.