Tidalis would at first appear to be a standard puzzle game, but there is quite a bit of depth under the hood. In truth, that’s an understatement. Tidalis is a puzzle game for everyone, from the very casual Bejeweled fan to the hardcore gamer who enjoys competitive play. Of course, for readers of this site, co-op is the main event, and the cooperative options in Tidalis are particularly robust, while at the same time very elegant and intuitive.
At its core, Tidalis is a “match three” puzzle game, but it’s much more than that, too. Various blocks of all colors fill your well, and each has an arrow. These arrows can be altered to point in different directions. To clear blocks, you must “fire” a block, which shoots a burst of color in the direction of its arrow. The burst will pass through other colors, looking for a match, and if a block of the same color is found within three blocks of the initial burst, then the second block fires another burst in the direction of its arrow. If three or more blocks can be connected in this fashion, all the blocks involved in the stream will clear. It sounds a bit complicated, but in practice its very easy to pick up.
When blocks land after falling from a clear, they shot out another burst. This can cause more streams to occur, if you’re sharp enough to move the blocks into place ahead of time, or perhaps just lucky. These chain reactions cause a multiplier, which pumps up your score. As you play, more and more blocks fall in from the top of the well. As with most puzzle games, when the well gets too full, the game is over. The streams and bursts are a simple innovation, but it has a dramatic effect on the "match three” gameplay. When you unleash a big combo, it’s a very satisfying feeling, indeed.
There are several methods of playing Tidalis. The tutorial levels start very simple, and take you step by step into mastering the mechanics of the game. Adventure mode involves a deserted island and some cute but strange talking creatures, if you’re into that sort of thing. The campaign consists of a series of challenges, asking you to complete tasks like surviving a time limit, or eliminating so many blocks of a particular color. If you just want to get into a fast paced game as quickly as possible, choose action mode. Interested in a slow paced, logic puzzle type of thing? Brainteaser mode is perfect for you. Prefer to zone out? It's all about Zen mode. Tidalis will play like many different games to many different types of puzzle game fans; there’s literally something for everyone here.