PN Review: Heptrix
Heptrix is a falling block puzzler in the Tetris mold. There’s a bit of a 7 theme with it – each block consists of 7 pieces, every fallen piece is worth 7 points, you clear 7 lines to advance a level, etc. The twist gives it a different feel to some degree, but doesn’t shake the formula up all that much. Considering Tetris is arguably the most classic game ever though, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Is Heptrix a competent clone?
The answer to that may boil down to how you view the games control. Quirky at best, frustrating at worst, Heptrix has a misguided control scheme attached to it. My main beef is that hitting down drops the piece as far as it can go, rather than simply accelerating its descent. Instinctively you’ll do so to speed things up (especially if you’re a Tetris vet) and no doubt be highly annoyed with the curious choice.
Other control quirks didn’t bother me so much. You can’t use the analog sticks, but the d-pad is better for this type of game anyway. You also can’t just hold left or right to move, instead being forced to tap. It’s not quite as annoying as it may sound though, especially when the playfield is less crowded. Ultimately what this game really needs is control options! Like Jose Varela’s prior Wii U release (Midtown Crazy Race) I feel this could be a pretty good game if the odd control setup could be jettisoned.
Heptrix has respectable audio and visuals for a puzzle game. The lone music track may be kind of generic, but the thumping techno tune didn’t get on my nerves at all. Likewise the single background manages to elevate itself somewhat through splashes of color and light scrolling. It actually looks quite good in HD, although playing off the GamePad is easier in gauging the placement of blocks.
With its unique block shapes Heptrix is a challenging game! Those looking for a difficult take on the Tetris formula could do worse. It’s a real shame there’s no multiplayer support however. Playing with a friend would be a very nice alternative to the tough endless mode.
I need to take this game to task for its poor handling of high scores. It only shows your high score if you top your previous one! Why not just display what it is up top? Better still, why not have a local leaderboard where we can enter our initials? For a game of this type, high scores are key!
Tetris is hard to mess up too much, but Heptrix unfortunately stumbles pretty badly. The $1.99 price certainly helps in making its issues slightly easier to swallow, but the lack of proper scoring and (especially) control options are hard to get past. With Ubisoft bizarrely bringing Tetris Ultimate to 3DS but not Wii U, Heptrix may find an audience with budget minded, forgiving fans of the game. Keep expectations low however, and hope that a much needed patch is being planned.