Battle Of Tiles
If you're on the lookout for something quirky to fill a little time between other projects, then for $5 you could do a lot worse than Bimboosoft's latest title: Battle of Tiles. Although it is far from a perfect game, the concept is fresh, and could appeal to a very wide range of gamers from puzzle nuts to dungeon crawlers. The rules of the game are simple and the integrated tutorial will have most players up and running within just a few minutes of booting it up.
Gameplay revolves around commanding a party of adventurers through an increasingly difficult sequence of combat based levels. The game's web page states that up to 70 characters can be in the player's party at once, although most of the time my parties involve around 20 to 30 characters. There are melee fighters as well as missile and magic users, and the game keeps track of the individual statistics for all units on screen.
There's no need to worry about the combat mechanics; the game will take care of all of that for you. Simply using the mouse or keyboard, the player selects a tile or group of tiles in their party, and then a direction in which they should move. After the movement phase, combat is automatically initiated by all those units that are in a position to attack an enemy. Damage inflicted is generally determined by the level of the attacker versus the defender, but some tiles have resistances to certain damage types as well as a random component to the damage formula (which is neither explained nor required knowledge to enjoy the game).
As tiles win battles, they accrue experience and can level up to become increasingly stronger over time. Veteran units are then tested at the end of each level by a boss enemy that will utterly destroy any poorly defended mage or healer tiles as well as any sundry lower level tiles left within reach. It is therefore up to the player to ensure that all tiles receive good combat experience and are rotated in battles such that damage taken and experience gained are shared amongst the team. All tiles seem to gain a little experience from battle, although those who participated in the action directly gain a higher percentage of the experience points earned.
A core mechanic is that enemy units can be bribed to fight for your team using gold accrued after defeating an opposing tile in battle. Do you save up to bribe a powerful fire mage, or do you go on a shopping spree and take 20 weak enemy slimes and hope to level them up into a rampaging horde of...well...higher level slimes. You start out with a handful of standard fighters and archers, augmented with a couple of mages, but after a few levels, your party can look like a travelling freak show, comprised of goblins, zombies, warlocks and mummies.
It is good fun to experiment with different formations, but the strategies available are limited to providing good melee based protection for the powerful ranged units to cut down enemy waves from afar. Pure missile teams or a group made from melee units only seem (predictably) not to be as effective as a mixed unit squad. There's plenty of scope to scale the difficulty level as required though. Five difficulty levels to challenge the player start off at a fairly forgiving "very easy" setting.
Don't expect to be blown away by a dazzling demonstration of your PC's prowess in manipulating polygons and rendering lighting and shadow effects. Graphics are minimalist and do not impress to any great degree. Some of the unit types can be a little hard to discern from each other, and the colour palette seems a bit drab and dreary for a casual game like this. There are some decent looking spell effects and I also like how, as the tiles take damage, they will crack and decolourise. Likewise, sounds are fairly basic and repetitive, but I suppose functional enough not to be a real drawback for the game score-wise.
There is a bit of an interface flaw, in my opinion, that when you double click an enemy piece to bribe it, you then have to click it once again to select it for movement. This seemed a bit unintuitive to me. On more than one occasion I was left cursing when my expensive newly bribed mage was hacked down because instead of him retreating towards my lines, the rest of my party was forced backwards into obstacles - and doubly frustrating when this resulted in my carefully planned formation being ruined in the process.
Battle of Tiles seems a good buy at a mere $5. It is hard not to recommend it simply on the basis of it being found on the road less frequently travelled, and a bit of a testament to why I like playing indies personally. You might not be playing it in a month's time, but there's a good few hours of enjoyment here at least.
Keywords: battle of tiles review, bimboosoft reviews, bimboosoft games, battle of tiles scores, pc game reviews, indie game reviews, independent gaming.