Thanks to Kwalee for the review code
System: Switch (eShop)
Release Date: 11/05/2020
In this dice-battling puzzler, you take control of someone aiming to travel through a kingdom, hoping to do battle with the princess! There’s barely a story here, but it does still exist enough to explain why unlockable NPCs want to battle the player.
You know the drill, these types of puzzle games tend to use similar presentations, and TENS is no different, going for a colorful, easy on the eyes color scheme and layout, not unlike a mobile game. The character designs are cute, the text is very readable, the music is suitable, and everything else gets the job done admirably.
At first, TENS may deceptively seem like yet another mobile-styled puzzle game, with the three-star stages, simple puzzle mechanics, and a map that looks as if it could have come from any other puzzle game. Yet, when it comes to the core gameplay, TENS is shockingly in-depth, and offers a lot more entertainment than you’d expect from such a game.
The main goal of the game, is to place dice blocks on a gridded board, each line adding up to its own total. If a line equals exactly 10, then the blocks are eliminated, and removed from the board, sorta like sudoku. In any other typical game like this, that would be the end of things, and it would seem at first that you just have to clear the blocks fast to get the best ranking. Yet, TENS takes in elements from the best puzzle games by adding combos and chains to the mix, which can lead to higher scores and satisfying benefits if you manage to plan out a multi-chain.
Indeed, TENS also supports a competitive aspect in this fashion, for every now and then, an NPC will challenge the player to a TENS duel, and pulling off a combo or chain here will lead to a satisfying attack, ala Tetris/Magical Drop/Puyo. It may not be the most in-depth game out there, but seeing something close to a new take in the oversaturated puzzle genre is just really cool to see, and I honestly found it very addicting to try and build up the biggest chains possible with my dice placements. The only bummer is that these versus stages are few and far between compared to reaching a certain number of dice clears, (which are the majority of stages) and while you can play local versus, there’s no online multiplayer, nor any offline modes taking advantage of this, such as an endurance mode that would have been pretty darn fun to try and best your streaks on.
That being said, there is an endless mode, where you try to rack up as many points as possible before the board fills up and is unusable, and this does lead to some good replay value, along with trying to get every star in the main adventure mode. But outside of that, TENS doesn’t have much to offer, even though the core gameplay is really damn good, which is a shame.
In conclusion, TENS was a puzzler that surprised me with just how fun it was! Taking the number-counting action of Sudoku and adding the chains/combos from other versus puzzlers, leads to a pretty addictive gameplay loop, satisfying when you’re playing alone, or against an opponent! With several unlockables such as new characters or dice designs, along with the decently sized story mode, TENS offers quite a bit of replay value for a high quality puzzler.
Unfortunately, the $15 pricepoint is easily the toughest part of this package to deal with: the replay value for scorechasers and those who want to just relax and enjoy the gameplay loop is high, but for a price like that, you could get multiple puzzlers of similar quality with more content. While this game is a lot of fun, I honestly feel that $6-8 would have been a better pricepoint for what you’re getting, and as it stands right now, while I can easily recommend this puzzler to fans of the genre, I advise either waiting for a sale or only buying it if you see gameplay of this game and are feeling it’s worth the steep jump. Still, if you manage to snag this one, you’ll find a lot of number-counting fun to enjoy!
I give TENS a 7 out of 10.