As initial offerings go, Tiles from Romans I XVI Gaming is a pretty decent first release.  With a raft of developer all looking to offer gamers the “next big thing” or alternatively jump on the latest bandwagon, (looking at you battleground clones), it’s refreshing to get a title that keeps its core gameplay simple and progressive.

Tiles, at first glance, appears to be a simple little puzzle. Move your highlighted square from the Green start block across the play area, crossing each platform and ending in the Red finish square. So simple, and straightforward. Until you get 4 or 5 levels in.

As you pass thresholds, new mechanics are introduced that complicate your traversal. Some squares will require you to pass it twice to register as completed; some squares are only held in place by those surrounding it, and some disappear after a set time or pulse in and out of phase. Once you reach the 20th level, you will find yourself restarting over and over as you try to work out the correct pathway, and timing, in order to successfully navigate the play area.

Where the initial levels are simplistic and easy to complete, by the time you are midway through the plethora of levels that are thrown your way, if you are anything like me, you will likely be cursing your “no longer nimble” fingers and screaming at the screen as your token plummets into the Abyss time and time again.

A testament to a games design is when, instead of cursing the game, you find you are blaming yourself for failing to complete a level, revealing the ugly truth that the game is designed for someone of greater skill and reaction than you can necessarily manage any more. Throwing the control to the spawn, standing behind me smirking at the “old man” trying to do a simple puzzle, revealed that it is not just a case of my “advanced years” causing me to fail to progress, as I watched bemused as my progeny failed continuously at the same timing puzzle that at the time alluded me.

Given the difficulty spike at that time, I wanted to try my hand at crafting my own devilish level, and the editor suite provided makes that reality with ease. Filling out the path in the route you want, adding some of the more difficult obstacles in with some back and forth that made traversal almost a split second race, and I took great joy presenting my levels to the household. After numerous hours of attempting, and making the most of the sound proofing in my games room, the levels were complete, and the sense of accomplishment was near palpable.

As I said at the start, sometimes it’s great to find the next big thing in game mechanics. On other occasions, it is quite the palette cleanser to find a title that keeps its core simple and methodical. Tiles falls happily in the latter camp. Although frustrating, and at places introducing new variations at a slightly overwhelming rate, the game is overall polished, easy to play but ultimately hard to master.

If you like your puzzle games, or feel like torturing a family member to the point of insanity, then Tiles is a great little addition to your gaming catalogue.

Thanks to Xbox for supporting TiX