You know how in Tetris when you line up combos, the blocks disappear? Well, imagine it was your job to make that part of the process happen. Plus, you’re in a space suit and a lot of things are trying to kill you.
That’s UFO: Unidentified Falling Objects. Even just looking at it to write this is seriously tempting me to suit up for one more round, but you know how that goes. (Yelling at the computer that I totally dodged that beam as I was just seconds away from level four.) Even wedged between an unbelievable week of releases, I still find myself sneaking in for, what I assure myself will be, short bouts of the colorful puzzle/platformer/roguelike.
Perhaps what makes it so appealing amidst the sea of taxing narratives and complex mechanics is its brilliant simplicity. Gameplay begins in a Tetris-like field, with blocks hurtling down from the sky. I can kick them around to match colors and shoot my blaster to obliterate those combos, leaving level-granting stars in their wake. But there’s danger lurking everywhere.
Basically everything in the game can murder me. Blocks falling on my head is the most immediate concern in the early stages. But once I’ve cleared out all the tetrominoes in a column, I discover the floor is made of deadly spikes. If I can avoid these long enough to gain stars and level up a bit, the blocks themselves turn on me. Some now contain bombs, others shoot directly at me, while still others house hostile creatures that hop free and try to bring my game to an abrupt end.
And actually, this happens a lot. On “death” I get teleported back to my ship. If I completed some of the checkbox objectives — like hitting a certain score or staying alive for more that a few minutes — I gain gems which I can use to level up gear and open up new worlds.
UFO is fun, fast, and a perfect game to play for lighthearted captivation. And you can get other people in on the action as there are options for a single-player campaign as well as couch co-op and online multiplayer.