Genre as old as time, still not past its prime, sliding-block puuuuuh-zlllleeeesss! Eh? Eh? I shoulda been on stage! But right now the spotlight is on James Newcombe's Cyadonia 2, the next installment in the bewitching series that adds new twists and turns to the a style of gameplay that rarely ever gets more than token treatment. In each stage, the goal is to get your four (or less) colourful Cyads to the exit. Once a Cyad starts moving, it doesn't stop until it hits something. Move with the [arrow] keys, switch between them with [tab] or [X], [R] to restart when/if you get stuck. There are 150 stages in all, fifteen broken up into ten different categories, and you can play them in whatever order you like. Sounds easy, right? Oh, but that's what it wants you to think. Though the game eases you in nice and gentle-like, even giving you a handful of simple tutorial levels and some water-wings, letting you paddle around until you get confident... it's a trap!
See, Cyadonia 2 isn't a one trick pony, and like its devilishly clever predecessors, will put more than just a wall in your way of the exit. Sometimes you'll need to collect all coloured gems to open a matching blockade. Sometimes you'll have to carefully navigate around explosive mines that will cause you to fail a level if set off! Lasers, mirrors, switches, keys, glue traps, and much, much more... and hey, who needs moderation anyway? Cyadonia 2's later levels don't think twice about piling multiple or even all of the elements into a stage, and then blowing up that stage to labyrinthine proportions beyond what will fit in a screenshot. The sprawling themed stages feel like a special treat, from the haunted house to the gardens, but more often than not, it can be the deceptively simple looking small stages that can hang you up for a long time. The game offers a huge spectrum of challenge, from the light to the devastatingly complex, and the latter require some serious planning. And a compass. Maybe a walkie-talkie. And some tissues to cry into when you realise you've been staring at the same screen for twenty minutes without any progress.
Be one of the first 5 people to complete the game and win a Cyadonia 2 mouse mat and key ring. Details at James Newcombe's Cyadonia site.
It's this, combined with the huge array of elements, that turns what is typically either a simple minigame in other titles or a straight-forward, no-frills game of its own into something really special and engrossing. Though you can play the levels in whatever order you like, you're probably going to want to play at least the first few tutorial stages of each new gameplay addition or you're going to have no idea what all the little symbols represent and how they work. In a similar vein, the some stages just have so much going on in them that they feel cluttered and imposing in a way that may immediately make players looking for more elegant simplicity back off to other levels in a hurry. However, James' eye for puzzle design and his ability to include every last possible puzzle element into his game makes Cyadonia 2 both a challenge and a real pleasure for anyone who enjoys slow, thoughtful gameplay without a lot of pressure. Though Cyadonia 2 lacks much drastically different than its predecessor, the sheer number of new, cunningly planned stages on offer is enough to keep you involved for a long, long time and are remarkable for the thought they must have taken in their own right. What are you waiting for? The Cyadonia has been doubled!