With production values of arcade games on the rise and more serious stories to be told, it’s nice to sit back and enjoy a simple arcade puzzler. Gel: Set & Match appears to be a no nonsense Tetris-like platformer full of bright colours and simplistic gameplay for anyone who needs a quick break from the daily grind.
Gel is all about bringing together coloured blocks to break them, the only difference is that you control a cartoony aardvark like creature to push and pull the blocks around. The blocks jiggle like jelly and the general aesthetics are childlike and charming, however this doesn’t mean the game fails to provide an adequate challenge.
There are 3 different modes to choose from: Puzzle, Action and Battle mode, all of which can be played on or offline co-op. Puzzle mode is all about clearing the board with the smallest amount of moves possible. It starts off simple but builds up in difficulty rather quickly. Apart from pushing and pulling the blocks you can also grab blocks that are starting to disappear (actually they melt) and throw them in the direction of a like-coloured block, which will then start to dissolve as well. This can take a little bit of skill and the quick thinking required keeps the pace up in this otherwise leisurely game.
Action mode is all about protecting a truck from the jelly blocks polluting the roads. Each time the truck runs over a block it takes damage and you have to protect it at all costs. Still using the four-colour break method, you have to quickly destroy blocks before the truck does as it slowly scrolls behind you.
Lastly is the Battle mode, which is an up to four player area for competitive play. This mode has 3 different game types to choose from, these range from matching blocks to throwing bombs at each other.
While the game has its obvious visual charm and overly cute premise, it’s a basic puzzler with a shiny face. While the game adds an interesting character element, nothing about Gel: S&M really jumped at me to keep playing on. The puzzles did honestly get harder as I progressed, however there were no feelings of wanting to carry on playing, or that I was encouraged to work the puzzles out. As a result, this left me feeling very indifferent about the whole game. The only real ‘incentive’ for Gel is that the stars you collect during your play contribute to purchasing new clothes and accessories to customise your character.
Aside from the fact that Gel has a dead online community there really isn’t anything spectacular going for the arcade game. If you are a fan of puzzle titles and want something to play around with for a few minutes then this game will certainly be worth a look. It’s got enough of a twist to feel different from your average puzzle game, but nothing to warrant a popular following.