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Thursday, June 13, 2024

This new Steam game turns Tetris into a dungeon crawler, and it’s pretty darn cool

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Despite being created nearly 40 years ago, Tetris has never gone out of style. I don’t think people will ever get tired of blocks falling from the sky while we frantically try to stack them up. Heck, Tetris just starred in its own sexy movie called Tetris.

So it’s not a bad time to play a new game on Steam that turns Tetris, weirdly enough, into a dungeon crawler. In Blocky Dungeon, from developer SquareAnon, you use Tetris-shaped pieces (they’re called tetrominoes, by the way) to build segments of a dungeon. Then you take control of a brave knight and move him through the dungeon you just plonked together, battling monsters and earning gold coins along the way.

I’ve just had a little go at Blocky Dunegeon, and it’s both fun and really tricky, considering you use your left hand on WASD to control your knight and your right hand on JIKL to control the dungeon blocks—you can drop blocks and move the knight at the same time. Thing is, the knight can only take a certain number of steps before you need to drop more blocks to refill his action points, so there’s a lot of bouncing around between building the dungeon and running your adventurer through it.

Just like in Tetris, you want to avoid filling up the entire map with chunks of dungeon or your game will be over. Use the knight to clear completed dungeon lines by selecting them with the Ctrl key and then stepping off them, which causes those segments to poof out of existence, along with any monsters standing on them at the time. The rest of the blocks you’ve stacked up above that line then crash down to fill the empty space. 

Another tricky bit is that your knight is cursed, and if you kill monsters by dropping them off the map while clearing lines, rather than by hacking them to death, the knight’s curse meter will fill and start doing damage to him. So you can only cleverly dispatch a few monsters that way before it starts taking a bite out of your own health. It’s a neat way to get you to weigh the risk of battling monsters toe-to-toe or using the map against them.

Different levels will give you different goals to complete, like winning while restricting yourself to a certain number of steps or defeating a certain amount of monsters. There’s also an endless mode where you just play for as long as you can, and the longer you play, the tougher the enemies will become. Luckily, the knight has some other neat abilities: gathering hammers from crates will let him bash down dungeon walls or build squares of the dungeon himself, useful for filling in little gaps here and there or escaping a dicey situation. 

Blocky Dungeon — Tetris-like Roguelike”

You can also gain power-ups by defeating monsters with a “perfect strike,” which means doing the exact amount of damage as the monster’s remaining HP. And you can spend your gold to unlock new characters, like a viking. This being a dungeon crawler there are bosses to battle as well as grunts.

It’s a really clever concept, and I love the chunky, cartoony art style. Even in just a few minutes of play I came across a few other surprises, like spikes traps that pop up and down each turn, rickety wooden squares of flooring that can collapse, and blocks that change shape each time you move. Plus, I saw two monsters wind up next to each other and get into a little slap fight until one of them was dead. Thanks for the assist!

There are over 30 different enemies to battle, a handful of bosses, and a few different game modes to try. Blocky Dungeon just launched on Steam this morning, and you can nab it for $10, or $8 if you buy it before April 13.

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