Tetris is nearly 30 years old, and there have been many twists on the formula of falling blocks, disappearing lines, and cursing your inevitable defeat. Every so often, though, somebody comes up with a new variation. With Dream of Pixels, developer Dawn of Play has discovered that Tetris is just as addictive when you play it in reverse.
Instead of little four-block shapes falling from the top of the screen to the bottom, Dream of Pixels presents you with a continuous wall. Your job is to cut up the advancing wall into tetrominoes and let those fall. You score points by removing lines of blocks, and you lose if the wall gets to the bottom.
As with Tetris, the game starts out easy. You see which shape you’re going to cut, find a likely spot on the wall, and tap. No problem, right? Just tap, tap, tap… until the game speeds up and you start leaving individual blocks behind. These blocks are still part of the wall, even if they’re not touching anything else, and they will still end the game if they reach the bottom.
As the game accelerates, you find yourself frantically clearing out lines, trying to reconnect the isolated pieces to the main mass of blocks so you can safely remove them from the board. The sense of impending doom has always been a compelling part of the Tetris experience, and Dream of Pixels recreates it perfectly here.
Hallelujah, it’s rainin’ tetrads.
Not everything is perfect. It’s easy to mix up left and right when trying to figure out where to cut your tetromino from the wall. That’s more a failing of the human brain than the design, but it’s still frustrating to misplay a piece and wreck your game. Tetris has relied for many years on distinctive colors to remind players which piece is which shape, and that might have been a handy feature in this game too.
There are also special white tetrominoes embedded in the wall that give you extra points if you remove them whole. It’s fun to chase these down at first, especially since you’ll unlock a new mode by doing so, but you’re likely to end up ignoring them as you struggle with the more difficult levels of the game.
The additional modes are worth unlocking, though. The Pro Mode lets you start the game at Level 9, and there are also variants like Nightmare and Shattered Dream. These change up the basic rules, forcing you to start the game with isolated blocks on the screen or deal with inconvenient holes in the advancing wall.
That was just a dream…
If you’re looking for a little less pressure, there’s also Puzzle Mode, which presents colorful images of sailboats and punk rockers for you to pull apart into individual tetrominoes. Puzzle Mode is not timed or scored, so it’s a good excuse to chill out, listen to the ethereal soundtrack, and play with blocks.
Regardless of the mode, Dream of Pixels is a fresh and fun take on the tried-and-true falling blocks game. There’s just one thing we’re wondering about: What happens to those blocks we’re dropping off the bottom of the screen? Could they be landing in someone else’s Tetris game? The world may never know.