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Review: Blocks that Matter

At a Glance

This game is recommended!
While there are many great games out there, this is one manages to be good fun and stay fairly true to Christian moral values.

If you're looking to add a new game to your collection, consider this one!

ESRB Rating: NR - Not Rated
My Rating: Everyone
Genre: Puzzle Platformer
License: Commercial
Release Year: 2011
Reviewed Version: 1.1.0.4b
Review Published On: February 22nd, 2020
Played on: Thaddeus

Available from:

Humble Store, Itch.IO, Steam

Save System:

While there are multiple save slots* for you to use, you'll probably only need one, and your progress is automatically saved* when you complete a level.

To pause, bring up the game's pause menu by pressing ESC*.

Summary of
Major Issues:

This game is very family friendly -- at its worst, the player may squish mindless slimes by dropping a block on them, or the player's robot can be destroyed if it comes into contact with a hazard (slimes, lava, TNT etc).

Screenshots

[view screenshot]
Big Mama is coming through!

[view screenshot]
An out of the way chest

[view screenshot]
This Block mattered a lot to modern gaming



Game Overview

Blocks that Matter is a story-driven platform puzzler built around a fun idea. Just about everyone knows about Tetris, so how would things work if physics obeyed the rules that classic game is based on?

Let's start with the story. Two Swedish indie game* developers, Alexey and Markus, have become somewhat famous for the games they've produced over the years. Lately, they've been working on a new secret project, and people are excited to see what they'll release. Unfortunately, someone is a bit too eager, and has them kidnapped by armed thugs. The gunmen lock the developers away, telling them to finish their new game or else.

This is sort of a problem, as the Swedish duo weren't actually making a video game. Their secret project was a tiny little robot, named Tetrobot. This puts them in quite the pickle, so they use what means they have at their disposal to wake up the prototype robot and send it on a rescue mission, hoping they can figure out how to finish upgrading its abilities along the way.

And that's where you come in. You control Tetrobot, and can make it walk, run, and jump like any normal platforming protagonist. But, the Tetrobot's main strength is its ability to collect blocks of matter, store them indefinitely, and place them back into the world. Of course, Tetrobot can only place blocks in groups of four (ie, tetrominoes*) and only when one of the blocks touches an existing part of the level. This allows you to make stairs or bridges as needed, but you might need to re-collect some of the blocks in order to continue.

Another trick you have up your sleeve is the ability to remove rows of matter -- just like in Tetris, you can completely erase a row of eight or more blocks. This is the only way to deal with blocks that you can't collect, and since you don't collect blocks erased this way, you need to be very careful about which blocks you include in these combinations.

Beyond collecting and placing blocks, you'll also need to deal with various obstacles -- typically slimes and lava. Touching either will destroy Tetrobot, resulting in you having to start the level over. There isn't a limit on the number of times you can retry a level, so it's mostly just an inconvenience. There is a little more to the puzzles than this (eg certain types of matter behave in specific ways), but that's the gist of it.

All in all, this is a fun, lighthearted puzzle game with a lot of little surprises tucked away for determined players to find. The puzzle aspect is surprisingly downplayed as well, so you can complete the story without worrying too much about getting stuck. Just keep an eye out for Big Mama. She tends to throw her weight around.

Points of Interest

Each level has two secret collectibles
In the story mode, there are two optional items you can collect. The more obvious one is a chest that is nestled in some out of the way corner. Many of these aren't easily spotted, but even if they are out in the open, there's usually a trick to reaching them. Inside these chests is a Block that Matters, a cube that references another popular game. Often, these are games that left a lasting impression on gaming or the video game industry.

The other secret* you can collect in the story mode are stars. To earn a star, you need to be carrying a lot of leftover matter when you exit the level. This is harder than it sounds, as there aren't usually that many spare blocks available.
Extra Levels
There is a total of 70 levels included with the game: 40 make up the story mode, then there are 20 unlockable* bonus levels*, and another 10 'Chocolate Update' levels. The only downside to this arrangement is that you can't play them in just any order. Both the story and Chocolate Update levels need to be completed in a specific order, while the bonus levels* are only unlocked* when you've reached certain milestones in the story mode.

But, that's not everything this game has to offer. You can create your own levels with the in-game level editor. Once you're happy with your creation, you can share it with other users via the Steam Workshop.
Steam Achievements + Trading cards
Everybody loves the metagame, and Blocks that Matter delivers with a total of 32 achievements* for you to earn and a set of Steam trading cards* for you to collect during your experiments with Tetrobot. Only six of those achievements* have to do with progression through the story; four let everyone know you've reached certain milestones while the remaining two are rewards for doing something special during your playthrough. One of these, "Acceptable in the 1980s", is a hilarious dig at the fact that older games needed you to play them through in one long sitting. Good luck earning that one!

Concerns and Issues

Mild violence
The developers are kidnapped and threatened by unknown gunmen in the cutscenes*. Nothing serious comes of it; the only content you'll really need to consider happens outside of the story. If Tetrobot touches a slime or the player triggers a nanoreset, the robot will explode and you'll need to retry the level. On the other hand, you can also position specific types of blocks so that they fall and squish any hapless slimes that are passing underneath.