You ever do any of those tests where they put say 4 shapes in front of you and ask you to pick the odd one out? It’s a simple enough task, but one that usually requires you to mentally rotate the objects in order to find that does (or doesn’t) share a particular feature of the rest of the others. It’s an area of research called Mental Rotation and it’s something that I always felt I was pretty good at. Of course you’d only think that insofar as your experience relating to using that ability and trying my mental rotation prowess against Tandis showed that it was sorely lacking.
The premise of the game is simple: you’re given a flat plane, a target object to replicate and a number of transformations that can be done on that plane in order to get the desired shape. As with all games the challenges start out relatively simple, usually only requiring a couple transformations done in the right sequence in order to complete the shape. However as you progress precision in the transformations starts to become critical, and those grid lines you so readily disregarded suddenly become key to solving the puzzle. Indeed the later levels have such bizarre shapes and translations that it’s often not clear how you can even get close to the final shape with the tools presented to you.
Though credit where credit’s due, the developer has taken a level of care in introducing the game’s various mechanics with the more complex solutions building on the ones you did previously. Quite often you’ll be finding tricks (like using a half cylinder rotated to get parabolistic shapes) that will need to be used time and time again. The challenge comes from being able to look at the target object and figuring out the intermediary shapes you need to go through in order to get the result. This isn’t always exactly obvious as some of the transformations are decidedly non-linear in the way they manipulate the object, often producing wild results when shifting slightly.
Like most good puzzle games often the hardest puzzles are more easily solved after letting them go for a while and coming back around to it. The hint system is definitely helpful to be sure, often getting you out of that initial rut and thinking in the right direction, but it only ever provides one so you’re on your own after that to try and figure it out. For me there were many puzzles I gave up in frustration only to come back to the next day and miraculously have the solution pop into my head.
All this being said though Tandis was a game that had a pre-set shelf life for me. Whilst the initial tranche of puzzles was certainly enjoyable there’s definitely a point at which staring at all the different variations of shapes you can come up with (none of which match the target) starts to become a bit of a chore. I can see it being a decent casual game that you come back to every now and then though as a single puzzle by itself doesn’t take too long. A bunch in a row though does lend itself to some mental fatigue.
Tandis is one of those curiosities that I stumble across every so often; the kind of game that’s made for a specific kind of individual who had an idea they just need to get out to the world. For what it does it executes well on but like all single mechanic/game loop style games it does have an upper bounds for the amount of time I’m willing to put into it. Still I enjoyed my time with Tandis, even if it was punctuated by a large number of “how the hell am I going to manage this one” type moments.
Tandis is available on PC right now for $21.50. Total play time was approximately 2 hours with 23% of the acheivements unlocked.