For those of you who are at a loss as to who Cryptic Sea are, they are Alex Austin and Edmund McMillen, nominees of many an IGF award and the masterminds behind such indie classics as Blast Miner and Gish.
When they began advertising on the Cryptic Sea blog that they were looking for beta testers to give their latest project ‘No Quarter‘ a try, I obviously jumped in there. Edmund explained to me that No Quarter, expected to be released ‘Early 09’, is ‘an album of six games where each game is presented like a track on a cd’. Pretty odd, pretty unique. To begin with, I’ve been given the pleasure of trying out ‘track’ number 2 on the ‘album’, called Trivium.
Edmund also warned that this was merely a beta and there was still a lot more work to do, but honestly he could have fooled me. Trivium is Alex and Edmund’s take on Tetris, or Columns to be more precise and, without trying to sound too over-dramatic, it is quite easily the best Tetris clone I have ever played. To be honest I would go as far as to say that Trivium is so unique in gameplay that it is on a par with the great Tetris itself.
See, blocks fall as they would in a game of Tetris, however there is no set grid for the pieces to fall into – it’s completely free space. As you can see from the screenshots, blocks don’t even need to be stacked properly; They can be completely higgledy-piggledy all over the place and you can STILL be winning. As long as you connect 3 or more of the same coloured tile together, you’re laughing.
Pieces can be span freely through 360 degrees too. No more placing blocks down flat – sticking them down at an angle is now possible. But of course, like all the greatest games at the moment, this is a physics driven-game. Dropped blocks will obey gravity and fix themselves into a proper resting place.
And I still haven’t mentioned the best bit – the blocks are spongy and bounce off each other. Push a tile against another hard enough and it will squish in size before springing back into shape and pushing the surrounding pieces around.
Add to this all the special blocks, including empty blocks which colour themselves depending on which tiles they touch and huge square pieces which destroy every tile of their matching colour, and you’ve got something rather fantastic to look forward to in the very near future.
And just think… this is only 1 part of a 6-piece gaming compendium. If the other 5 are as unique as Trivium, No Quarter is going to be one of the most essential gaming experiences of 2009.