It’s time to invest in a new stylus or five, as Intelligent Systems returns with a fearsomely smart follow-up to the eShop’s finest game to date. Fallblox is another spatial puzzler that will have you chewing your stylus with alarming regularity. Far from a simple sequel, it completely revamps the first game’s systems to provide another excellent test of your mental acuity. And this time, it removes the training wheels much earlier.
The main link to the previous game comes in the rotund form of protagonist Mallo. This time, he’s tasked with solving a problem of his own making, as his attempt to impress the granddaughter of mentor Papa Blox ends with him scaring away a flock of rare birds. Naturally, they seek refuge atop a series of structures made from irregular shapes, which makes Mallo the ideal candidate to rescue them.
Where the first game asked you to pull and push its structures to form a stairway to the top of the level, this time you have single-layer shapes that need to be manoeuvred into position. The catch is that they’ll fall if unsupported, so you need to consider the effect that pulling and pushing them will have before you even start. In other words, you’ll need to plan ahead simply to get off the ground, let alone to reach the summit.
Early levels offer the briefest of text clues, while the watchful Papa Blox will remain to offer further hints, alerting you whenever you’ve made a move that makes completion impossible. As before, you can rewind for quite a while to rectify any errors, and leap on a button to reset the structure to its original form. It’s a handy way of alleviating frustration in a game that takes a little longer to get your head around than its more immediate predecessor, though soon you’re left to your own devices.
The two-star conundrums in Pullblox were a doddle to solve; here, you’ll be pondering your next move even before new gadgets are introduced, from directional arrows to cloud platforms that remain airborne. The puzzles might look simpler in design, but they’re much harder in execution, and their completion brings about a similar feeling of satisfaction and achievement to constructing a piece of flat-pack furniture without instructions.
In some respects it’s a fairly safe sequel – aesthetically, it’s near-identical – but how many puzzle titles shake up the previous game’s mechanics so thoroughly and so effectively? Fallblox is an intoxicating blend of the familiar and the new, every bit as essential as Pullblox, and a further reminder that Intelligent Systems remains one of the most aptly named developers in the business.