16th April 2010:
What happens when a notable indie strategy developer makes a puzzle game? We have no idea. Arcen's first game happened to be the notable indie strategy game AI War: Fleet Command, but Arcen's staff never considered themselves tied to any particular genre. Their second standalone title, Tidalis, is a puzzle game with more of a casual leaning because the Arcen staff likes puzzle games and wanted to innovate in that space.
The "streams" mechanic employed by Tidalis is what makes it so unique -- chain reactions with a dozen blocks are trivially easy to create. This makes the game really easy to get into, but also makes the creation of advanced multi-stage combos more challenging than in other block-based puzzlers. At an advanced level of play, it’s the difference between Chess and Checkers; with Tidalis in the hands of an expert, there are more variables to keep in mind as you set up truly elegant interactions.
But never fear: the easier difficulty levels are quite relaxed, and the Zen mode provides a particularly no-rush style of gameplay. The core mechanics are so simple that the two-year-old daughter of one of the developers enjoys playing along with him. And perhaps it goes without saying that many of the staff's wives and mothers are hooked on it, too.
Whether players are looking for a casual fun time, a deep and strategic puzzle experience, or a series of brain-bending puzzles, Tidalis has them covered. About half of the five developers working on this game are the hardcore puzzle types, and the other half have completely casual tastes. Arcen has approached this with their usual attention to detail: the mechanics of the timing, chain merging, and other mechanics have been refined to a ridiculous degree to provide an optimal experience in all play styles.
Other noteworthy features include our co-op modes in particular. At present only the single-computer, shared-well type of co-op is supported, but in the coming month the multi-well and network play modes will be added to the mix. As well as pvp modes against other players or against the AI.
The current beta allows anyone to get early access to the demo of the game, and players who wish to preorder get early access to the full thing. Arcen is also soliciting player-created puzzles and levels to add to the hundreds that Arcen itself will create, so that the game's official launch will have a truly staggering amount of available content for players. This is a chance for players to get credited by name or by handle in a video game (as has happened for dozens of players who contributed suggestions to AI War and The Zenith Remnant). The full version of the game is expected to launch in early July.
For further details on the game and the beta process for it, please see this link: http://www.arcengames.com/tidalis_features.php