You start with this…
There are many words that can describe Trichrome: difficult, insidious, ruthless, unforgiving – I’m just going to settle with the word “evil”. To say that developer Sean Puckett has created a fast-paced tile-matching game for the PC that tests your ability to think fast is putting it mildly.
Trichrome is played on a board that is made entirely of small triangles. The object of the game is to score points by matching tiles of like colours. A preview of upcoming tiles is displayed on the left with the current tile in your “hand” at the top (it is larger than the rest to distinguish it). There are three primary tile colours: red, blue and green. To make a successful match, you must form a four-tile triangle using tiles of the same colour. You can create larger structures of adjacent tiles – but once a four-tile triangle is created as part of that shape, the whole thing disappears.
Once you create a match, an “upgraded” tile will appear that is a new colour related to the primary colour that you just used to create your match. The upgraded tiles can, once again, be used to create a 4-tile match, thus creating another upgrade. Matching four of the twice-upgraded tiles results in a pure white tile; and matching four pure tiles results in awesomeness. Points are given for matches; the more elaborate the shapes you create, the higher the points (with extra points for elaborate shapes created out of upgraded tiles).
…and end up with this! %!^$&@!!!
It sounds fairly easy until you factor in the initial 30-second countdown timer. So, not only do you have to try and figure out where to place all of your tiles, you also have to plan ahead so that you don’t run out of space – all while sweating as you watch the timer count down. Sure, time is added for completing matches and combinations – but it never feels like as much time as you think you should get. Intermissions break up game-play, allowing you to breathe; but you’ll most likely end up spending the break trying to figure out how to best use the time added to the countdown during the intermission, and you’ll have to re-engage your mind to compensate for new primary tiles being added to the mix.
The graphics are minimalist, with bright colours and interesting visual effects that occur when you perform matches and combos. Audio is also simplistic, with tones being assigned to the various levels of upgrades as you play. Sean has managed to give you enough visual and audio cues to be helpful and harmful all at the same time. If you can keep a clear focus, you might be able to use them to your advantage. Of course, if you’re easily distracted (when the timer reaches the last ten seconds, there is a deep rumble that builds until it reaches zero), you may not survive past a few levels. For those with atypical visual perception, there is an alternate colour mode.
I am really enjoying this game. With challenging game-play, a simple interface, in-game bonuses, and a fairly robust achievement system that allows you to challenge your friends, this game has all the makings of an unholy -but super fun- addiction. Trichrome is available for $4.99 for PC (Desura); it is also available for the iPad. So? What are you waiting for? You only have 30 seconds to make as many good decisions as possible!