Every game can't be a comic book-inspired dash through the streets and rooftops of New York City. Sometimes you just want to relax with a nice puzzle game to relax with on your phone. Or maybe a really hard puzzle game – I'm not here to judge you guys.
That's what Slovenian indie developer Dawn of Play has given us with their first Windows Phone game, Dream of Pixels. You can describe Dream of Pixels as a "reverse Tetris" game, given that it involves pulling apart a pile of blocks into Tetris-shaped pieces. But the game play really is quite fresh and challenging. Plus it's one of the loveliest puzzle games you'll come across, with a sharp 3D engine and gorgeous use of colors. Check out our impressions and hands-on video after the break!
Upside down and topsy-turvy
As I just mentioned, the basic concept of Dream of Pixels is that players must take apart a large mass of blocks found at the top of the screen. It's like the morning after Tetris; somebody has to clean up the mess!
Thing is, you can't just tap away at the block pile and hope for the best. There are rules to this demolition project. First of all, you're looking for a specific Tetromino (piece) to pull out of the stack. You can usually remove that shape from several points within the block mass, and even press and hold to rotate the shape you're going to remove.
If you just pull blocks off willy-nilly (as I did in our video, whoops) the stack will be left with lots of random floating blocks. Players can't interact with disconnected blocks, and they will cause the game to end if you let them touch the bottom of the screen. Luckily, clearing the lines between the stack and the floaters will cause those floaters to return to the stack. Then you can clear them right, gosh darn it.
But wait, there's more! From time to time a white shape will appear within the stack. You could just ignore it and just pull it apart bit-by-bit as you work through the target shapes. But take the time to separate the surrounding blocks from the white piece without destroying it and you'll get four times the points, so some careful clearing is usually the way to go.
Also, pieces usually must have a clear path below them in order to be removed from the stack. This varies by game mode, though.
Plenty of game modes
Dream of Pixels starts out with a tutorial that I found slightly tough to follow. Chalk it up either to the distraction of shooting a video, or to the tutorial needing a little more explanatory text than what's there.
The main game offers six modes of play. Only three are available by default – the rest will unlock when certain conditions have been met.
- Classic: Try to survive and score as many points as you can. The level increases as you clear enough lines, making the block stack move faster.
- Puzzle: Take on 120 hand-crafted puzzles without the pressure of time! Instead of a big mass of blocks, the blocks actually make some fun and interesting shapes such as the Windows logo, a Pong scene, and a music note. Even the puzzle names are clever. The Puzzle mode is my favorite part of the game.
- FreeFall: Works like classic, except pieces don't need a clear path to the bottom in order to be removed from the stack. They just fall into the background.
- Pro: Unlocks after reaching Level 9 in Classic.
- Nightmare: Merge isolated blocks with the main cloud of blocks 100 times to unlock.
- Shattered Dream: Detach 42 white pieces to unlock this mode.
Besides offering a lot of things to do, Dream of Pixels is super pretty and features some catchy trance music to entertain the ears. The only thing the game really lacks is online leaderboards. Comparing scores with random players or friends would add a nice competitive element and additional replay value.
Like I said, Dream of Pixels is not an easy game. Even though it's based on a familiar puzzle game concept, the implementation is so different that your Tetris skills won't necessarily pay the bills. But if you like a puzzle challenge, you'll want to pick this one up. And there is a trial!
- Dream of Pixels – Windows Phone 8 – 66 MB – $2.99 – Store Link