Tetrogue Dragons is available on PC via Steam. Joseph Pugh conducted this review.
People think I’m crazy, but despite being called the perfect video game, I don’t actually like Tetris. There’s no puzzle game category on my website because when taken alone puzzles aren’t something I generally enjoy. A Tetris inspired deck building rogue-lite, on the other hand? Now you’re speaking my language, and Tetrogue Dragons is exactly that.
Tetrogue Dragons was developed by one person and is a blend of Slay the Spire style deck, or block building I should say, combined with the classic all-time favorite puzzle game. Blocks in the game correspond to various stats and abilities, for both you and your foes. Clearing a line of blocks activates the abilities of every block involved.
You navigate procedurally generated regions as one of many classes; battling foes, adding and upgrading blocks to your deck, while acquiring potions and relics to help you on your journey.
Falling with Style
When you begin the game, you have access to a couple classes and can unlock several others as you play. Each class has a different starting deck of blocks, abilities that correspond to those blocks, and statistics including how fast blocks fall.
The way the classes are implemented into the Tetris style gameplay is incredibly clever. A Thief has blocks that can earn gold which, is normally spent on new goods, but the Thief also has an ability that lets them deal damage equal to 10% of their gold.
The Hunter has a marking system where they can pile marks on an enemy and then wipe them for a massive damage boost based on how many marks were active. Anyone who plays RPGs will understand and recognize these common tropes, but the way they function in a falling block game is brilliant.
Each class feels significantly different from the others, adding a variety to a Tetris style game I wouldn’t have previously thought possible. Your class is just the beginning though. You need to mold and alter your deck as you progress.
Winning fights comes down to reducing the enemy’s HP, usually through some kind of attack block. But the kicker is, each enemy also has its own block abilities, and they add their blocks to YOUR deck.
This means clearing as many lines as possible isn’t always viable. You have to pick and choose when and where to activate the enemy’s blocks. If you take too long and reach the top of the board, it clears, but you get a penalty based on the class you chose. Sometimes it’s still viable to take that penalty rather than a buttload of damage or debuffs from enemy blocks.
It presents a kind of strategy that was novel to me. In addition to attacks, there are a large variety of buffs and debuffs that blocks can apply. Most only last for the next line to clear, so timing is crucial.
You could, for example, stack shields on yourself, then clear enemy attack blocks to absorb the damage. Another strategy is to clear a set of the enemy’s strength blocks then avoid letting them attack with the next line to negate the buff.
The enemies are varied too. Some have a focus on poisoning you or giving themselves thorns, so you take damage when you attack them. Just like your classes, they have special abilities, such as reversing your controls or blocking your vision.
Defeating an enemy can reward you with new blocks and gold, which can be spent on even more blocks or powerful potions and relics. But you have to strike a careful balance.
Some relics are very strong, such as increasing the width of the board. But every enemy you defeat adds one block to the next enemy’s deck size, and bosses add three. When the enemy blocks start to outnumber yours, things get tricky.
Balancing your own HP is also an obstacle, you heal after every boss fight, but beyond that, it can be difficult. You have to choose your route through each region carefully, balancing fights with potential treasure, shops, and rest areas.
The rogue-lite deckbuilding elements are compelling, and it spices up the gameplay in a way I really enjoy. It’s pretty easy to get addicted to the gameplay loop, and the variety of classes definitely helps its replay value.
Some block abilities rely on RNG to activate, which I found impeded the strategy and effectiveness in some cases. Often times these abilities had a 10 to 20% chance to activate. You could upgrade them after a boss fight, but I never really felt these abilities were impactful. Especially if they were meant to combo with a SECOND RNG based ability.
Likewise, enemies that had chance-based abilities were far less threatening than deterministic ones. This can also make some of the classes feel unbalanced. For example, the first time I played Tetrogue Dragons, I choose the Knight since it was the recommended class for a first-time player.
I cleared the whole game on my first try with the Knight when I am notoriously bad at puzzle games. I attribute this to the fact that while sure, the Knight may be the beginner class, it’s abilities were also entirely deterministic, with no chance based abilities at all.
The music and sound effects can also become repetitive and grating after a while, but beyond that, it’s difficult to complain. Tetrogue Dragons is a solid title.
Tetrogue Dragons is clever, fun, and addictive, with an interesting take on the falling block style of puzzle game. The rogue-lite elements fit perfectly, and the way the variety of classes play is impressive.
I think its chance-based abilities are tuned to low, for both player and enemy blocks, but the game remains entertaining in spite of it. The fact of the matter is, Tetrogue Dragons is a cheaply priced game and absolutely worth the eight dollar price tag for the content and sheer replay value it offers.
I can’t really speak for puzzle lovers, but as a fan of rogue-lite games, Tetrogue Dragons does something clever and unique with its genre-blending gameplay. The cheap price just makes it that much easier to recommend.
You might also be interested in my Review of Crown Trick.
A copy of Tetrogue Dragons was provided for Gideon’s gaming by Shatterproof for the purpose of review.
- Excellent blend of Tetris style gameplay with rogue-lite deck building
- Variety of classes with distinct playstyles
- Nice enemy variety with their own strengths and weaknesses
- Great replay value
- RNG abilities don’t feel impactful due to the low percentage of triggering
- Classes feel unbalanced from each other
- Music and sound effects can become repetitive