Gridland


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Rating: 4.3/5 (128 votes)
| Comments (49) | Views (14,697)

Gridland

DoraGridland is from Doublespeak Games, creators of A Dark Room, which as you know means that a) it's a really clever and interesting game, and b) I can't really say too much as to why and how without spoiling it for you because of the way the game slowly changes as you play. Superficially, it looks like a simple match-3 puzzle game. Click on two adjacent tiles to swap them, and if they match, the resources they represent will be collected. The game is turn-based, and while time marches on, it only moves when you make a turn, so plan you moves to get the most "cascade" matches possible as other tiles drop to replace the ones you removed. Initially, it seems both too easy, and, well, weird. You'll need to figure out on your own what's happening and how you figure into it, since the game offers no help or direction whatsoever. During nights, planning your matches becomes even more important, and the thing to remember is that while everything else happens automatically you don't need to rush, and in fact frantically making matches will work against you. You'll need to experiment and really choose your moves carefully... especially when the sun goes down...

Gridland is so drastically different from A Dark Room that it's likely to get a bit of a rough reception from fans who were hoping Doublespeak Games' next title was a sequel, or even just another game with the same gameplay. There's no real narrative, and it seems a little shallow at first blush, which, combined with the the lack of explanation as to the game's mechanics, may make it less immediately engaging than its predecessor, especially since it doesn't "play itself". Taken purely on its own, however, Gridland offers its fair share of surprises, even if it's slow about revealing them. Discovering how the game evolves as you successfully complete days and nights, and more structures, is an effective hook. The downside is that your little avatar moves painfully slowly, and if you make a match that changes day to night (or vice-versa) while your character is in the middle of something, like picking something up, that gets overridden by the change of times, so you can actually lose items when night turns to day if your character hasn't picked them up yet. Gridland is a slow-paced game that requires a lot of experimentation and patience, and a game that's still in the process of being tweaked and balanced, but it'll appeal to fans of more strategic match-3 games who have been looking for some different... which Gridland decidedly is.

Play Gridland

49 Comments

Does anyone want to provide spoilers on the ultimate evolution of the buildings, or if that will constitute "winning"? I've gotten to the point of grinding, and while learning how things work was fun, I'm ready for the payoff now.

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I can't get through the first night for some reason.

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RustyKi Author Profile Page August 25, 2014 2:59 PM replied to RustyKi

Wow. took me so long to realize it's turn-based

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@RustyKi

The main difference in strategy between day and night is that

during the day, you want as many chain matches as possible and during the night you want to play more carefully as a bunch of monster matches chaining together can overwhelm you.

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Not finished yet, but I'd be willing to bet that "winning" involves

Beating the witch-thing that you summon by matching red crystals at night

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shipoopie Author Profile Page August 25, 2014 3:13 PM

The simplicity of this game does not need to slow my browser down, but it does anyway. I had to close the window.

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continuities Author Profile Page August 25, 2014 3:29 PM replied to shipoopie

If I'd been smart enough to write the graphics using canvas, you'd be absolutely right. Turns out the DOM really doesn't like being stressed this hard. Live and learn.

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shipoopie Author Profile Page August 25, 2014 3:47 PM replied to continuities

It got way too choppy and pausey so I gave up on it. I wanted to keep playing but it's impossible.

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Agreed. I LOATHE how the whole whiny crybaby spoiled brat attitude of "NO SPOILERSSSS!!!" has bled over into video games. It has ruined tv and movies and looks to ruin video games as well.

You say you don't want to spoil the game for us or whatever that we're supposed to 'discover things for ourselves.' That isn't the definition of casual game. At the very least the first comment in the comment section should be by the original reviewer of the game laying stuff out. This whole "YOU HAVE TO FIGURE IT ALL OUT FOR YOURSELF!!!" attitude is snotty and snobby and pretty much what the entire tech culture has become and I'm tired of it.

Score: 4 (4 votes) Vote up Vote down Report this comment Reply

OK, this game is interesting, but I have a couple problems. First of all,

It appears that increasing the quality of your buildings increases the difficulty of the enemies to a greater degree. For example,

I had a really good day where I upgraded all four buildings - purple cloth, grey log, stack of bricks, glowing stone. My upgraded equipment actually fared worse against the new enemies (flame thing, worm thing) than the old equipment fared against the old enemies.

For that matter,

I think the iron and wood buildings upgrade your equipment, but it isn't clear whether upgrading the brick and cloth buildings do anything positive. Are they the ones that level up your enemies? If so, this may explain why the guy purposefully spreads the materials out (which is frustrating when you would of course rather upgrade your equipment than the enemies).

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i beat your game [FLEXES]

... Admittedly, I did so by exploiting a lucky glitch that I don't think I can get to repeat itself. Nice job, me! (In short, somehow the icons for the magic bubble thing were still 'there' despite the bubble not being filled, meaning I could use them infinitely without any cost. I think it was just a one-off thing, cause when I did new game+ it wouldn't repeat itself, but ... also the bubble wouldn't work at all... hm.)

This was really pretty fun despite my cheating ways. Simple but satisfying. I had a Good Time.

For those who ~really~ want to know what all they're waiting for,

it does, indeed, have to do with that awful red crystal guy. I'm pretty sure matching up & eliminating the squares they turn red will help damage them, so it encourages you to keep playing rather than just desperately match up shields and swords. But like I said I cheated like heckie and so ended up just pausing time indefinitely, making my character go fast, and beating the crap out of it the old fashioned way.

Anyway, once you've beaten the red crystal person, you get an item of sorts that allows you to summon the final dragon, which I highly do not recommend doing until you're all the way upgraded with your swords & shields/stone & wood because this sucker's got a lot of health and you can't actually do damage to him without a sword. Fortunately you can't accidentally summon other monsters while you're fighting this guy, ehehe, but I also don't know what most of the tiles that you match up do because ... I... cheated. I cheated really badly. I'm sorry, video game Jesus. Forgive me.

Anyway, I have a question for the creator if they peek in and wanna see:

Does it make a difference if you collect matches of 4+? I was trying to monitor if 4s or 5s were better than just 3s but I couldn't really tell.

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continuities Author Profile Page August 25, 2014 4:17 PM replied to vamoosi

Matching 4+ during the day spawns mana gems. Matching 4+ at night increases the chance that the resulting monster will drop loot.

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continuities Author Profile Page August 25, 2014 4:18 PM replied to vamoosi

Also, that's a really bad bug... I'll look into it.

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@Joe Gordon: Respectfully, it usually takes less than a day and sometimes much less for someone to write a walkthrough or explanation. I think it's okay for the spoiler-wanting contingent to wait that long so that the spoiler-avoiders can enjoy the game without accidentally seeing something that could instantly ruin their fun. I myself am proud of how scrupulous the reviewers and commenters all are at hiding spoilers, so thank you all for that.

Score: 3 (3 votes) Vote up Vote down Report this comment Reply
baileydonk Author Profile Page August 25, 2014 7:13 PM

Can you direct the little dude to bring building materials to a particular building? I thought I could, by clicking the building, but it only appears to work some of the time. Anyone figured out how that works?

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merchantfan Author Profile Page August 25, 2014 8:42 PM

Yeah, this is taking forever to load on my computer.

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I think my game is bugged, preventing me from completing it:

Whenever I kill the witch, the dragon's amulet doesn't drop. It dropped the first few times, after which I died for one reason or another, but it hasn't dropped since I started mucking around with the time bubble.

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Here's my advice:

After all your buildings have leveled up twice or so, just start cheating. There's a ton of worthless grinding and you'll do well by skipping it all.

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Was fun but now I'm around day 35. At this point it feels like I'm getting an unfairly low amount of swords and shields and a ton of enemies. It feels unwinnable except for some extreme luck. And it's frustrating to lose all the progress during the day and have to do everything again.

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ok. I never thought I'd find a game that was more of a memory whore than gemcraft 2. I consider my words eaten.

This was a great and engaging game, but after a point, it becomes grind city and the memory problems make it impossible to get to the next level before it crashes the browser.

thumbs down.

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Ok, found a strategy that makes it easier than I thought. But still, Why do I have to replay the day on death? :(

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csmithpub Author Profile Page August 26, 2014 8:56 AM

... Not a question I normally have to ask for a game, but is the loading screen part of it, or is it just enormous? I keep telling it to play without music, but it just gets to /?nomusic&nomusic&nomusic...

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Can anyone tell me how many buildings you have near the end? Because I have this black floaty thing over where 6th building may be.

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I'm pretty sure loading issues are a problem with the server being overloaded, not the file/loading screen being huge.

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continuities Author Profile Page August 26, 2014 11:33 AM replied to Nicholas McIntyre

Yup, my server is having a hard time right now. Trying to fix it!

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Found a bug.

I was fighting the dragon and used the spell to change the day. When I came back at night, there was no dragons but all the tiles were still dragon tiles. So nothing to do. I used the spell again to leave, but the same thing happened until I closed the game.

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Matching 3 purple crystals no longer gives the power ups during the day time :(

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This game isn't loading for me at all.

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Am I the only one who thinks that A few seconds The sound in the music sounds like someone saying "ti(m) folley" with autotune ?

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continuities Author Profile Page August 26, 2014 5:38 PM replied to Lany Chabot-Laroche

Hah! I hadn't thought of that! Will fix.

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OK, had a little extra time so I revisited this. Using minimal processes I was able to continue from where I had it before (although the peak working set for the process exceeded 800,000k).

Gameplay is fun and intuitive, plus the mana shard/crystal ball thing makes less luck based if you accidentally trigger lots of monsters at night.

I beat the witch and the dragon (thanks to some lucky bombs), and clicked continue, made it to the next night and summoned another monster.
Nothing. Try again.
Still nothing.
Fortunately I had three mana shards on the screen, and after some strategic maneuvering I managed to get them in line. Summoned and killed another witch, getting a second dragon medal, but still no other monsters.
Looks like a minor bug. I assume that there is a bit in the code that deactivates summoning of other monsters when you use the dragon medal. If so, the fix would be to switch it back when the dragon is killed.

So, playwise, I like it. Memory wise, it needs work and there's obviously bugs that need fixing. Still gets a thumbs down, but when the issues are all sorted, I'd love to have another crack.

Suggestion, though. It seems that before you can select a building it must already have a block laid on the current level. If that can't be changed, it would be nice if the buildings showed which colour blocks they use to make it easier to plan your matches, since the way the blocks change colour as they upgrade makes it hard to memorise.

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continuities Author Profile Page August 27, 2014 10:33 AM replied to Jonathan Kok

Dragon bug is fixed!

Memory is kind of a pain in the butt when loading music into the WebAudioAPI. It has to decode it to raw, which does eat a bunch of RAM. I blame the current state of HTML audio, but if anyone has a solution I'd love to hear it. It'd be great if it was just ignorance on my part and not crappy tech.

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When I try to play, I only get one tile.

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continuities Author Profile Page August 27, 2014 11:30 PM replied to Bill

Yeah, that only seems to happen when it's played at JayIsGames. I don't know why. Reload a few times, and it should work. If not, come play it at http://gridland.doublespeakgames.com

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crashlanding Author Profile Page August 27, 2014 11:31 PM

So, as far as item-monster connections go, it seems to me that

Wood turns to shields
stone turns to swords
food turns into the big melee things/ogres
cloth turns into the ranged dudes
bricks turn into the small fast thingies

does that seem right to people?
also, the buildings:

in order from left to right, upgrade
bricks, cloth, stone, wood?

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to win?

beat the dragon
once you beat the dragon you see your statistics and can continue to play or start over.

Anything past that I do not know; it took quite a while to get that far.

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How do you save?

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continuities Author Profile Page August 29, 2014 11:36 AM

"... your little avatar moves painfully slowly, and ... you can actually lose items when night turns to day if your character hasn't picked them up yet."

I've increased everything's movement speed, and made it so that chests open automatically at daybreak. Hopefully this addresses these (totally valid) criticisms!

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Scaper Author Profile Page August 29, 2014 11:41 AM replied to Joe Gordon

Your comment is hilarious!

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You only lose items when night turns to day if you die at night because the day starts over again.

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I love the dragon! amazing music transitions anyway :)

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mittudomain Author Profile Page August 31, 2014 8:12 AM

This game proved to be much more addictive than I first thought. I thought I'd give it a quick try... and now I'm on Day 73...

One of my strict rules for casual games is that I treat them casul - that means no searching for and chewing through "how to play" descriptions. If the game isn't self-explanatory, and you can't figure the main rules and things out by trial-and-error, it isn't a casual game. So, it took me quite some time to find out some of the basic things - shame, but I never realized connecting 4 of the same things triggers the crystals, for example... - but I could always progress.

but now I think I've reached the point where I can't upgrade any of my buildings anymore, so no matter how full my "warehouse" is, the little guy just stands there doing nothing. So, now the only goal for the day phase is to align the wood and glass (?) tiles so I can make as many shields and swords as I can during the night sphase - and also to fill up my "life bar" if I have to.

And, frankly, that gets boring quite soon. Yep, I know it's my fault, because I guess Ishould have won the game a long time ago - the truth is I never realized that dragon is a kind of final boss - it looked to me like the one thing I should never try to trigger - it was strange to see the trigger appear in the same panel as my aids go for the night phase...

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allenknutson Author Profile Page August 31, 2014 6:36 PM

On day 11, finding things pretty grindy. Game crashes. Reload to beginning of day 11. Midday, crash. After the 3rd time I have given up. I'll look around on the developer's website to see if there's a place to send the savefile.

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I did it! I beat the dragon! :P

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crashlanding Author Profile Page September 1, 2014 6:54 AM

Yeah, still addicted to this little gem!

one little bug I've noticed:
Occasionally, clicking on the little mana sphere during daytime (I don't often use it at night, so I'm not sure if it happens then too) will automatically choose one of the options - I think it's because I clicked near the edge, and so a single click hit both the mana sphere and the option. Perhaps adding a short delay inbetween when the mana sphere is clicked and when the options become clickable would help?

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I wish I had known sooner that getting 4-in-a-row at night was good; I assumed it made the monsters stronger and was trying to avoid it.

What are mana crystals, though? I get plenty of 4-in-a-row during the day and I just figured it got me slightly more resources.

Also, what is the purple clublike item that sometimes comes out of the chests at night? It doesn't appear to give me anything new when it happens.

I've really been enjoying this, but I think I've gotten myself into a corner as early as day 22. I just can't seem to survive against these new monsters. Re-playing a day so many times is frustrating, but maybe it would be worth it if I could use that opportunity to somehow give myself an advantage the next night? Like how in an RPG if you can't beat the boss, you go grind some levels? Maybe I could keep previous daytime progress and just add onto it. It sounds a bit like cheating, but on the other hand I'm not relishing the idea of starting a brand new game.

Maybe I will anyway, just to see if I've encountered a bug regarding these "mana crystals"... there are multiple saveslots, after all.

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awfulworldkid Author Profile Page September 7, 2014 10:46 AM

I think that the purple clublike things are mana crystals based on your description, and you need a specific building that unlocks somehow (starts unlocked on newgame+) to find them. They turn red if they're on the grid during the night and when matched in the day they fill up the circle thing in the bottom left.

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