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BlockAid – Review

A simple game launched a few years ago, BlockAid is a puzzler I return back to frequently and so I wanted to give it some love and shine light on this curious little gem. It merges together path forging, forward planning a bit of Tetris too.

Knowing exactly what to place where and stopping travellers meeting in the same spots is key.

BlockAid is a turn based puzzle game where various travellers with giant scarves move across a plain of nodes. All the nodes start off a giant walls and with each turn you place a strangely shaped block out of a random choice of three to place down. Doing so squashes the path down on these blocks until someone walks over them or you place another block on the squashed down walls. Think of them like pressure pads and the moment something touches them and leaves again, the walls rise up.

Very quickly BlockAid goes from an easy idea of block laying to open up a path to a slow moving spaghetti junction. Multiple characters on screen will mean they start to cross over, run alongside or all converge in central meeting points on their journey. This is where you can start to abuse each traveller and make them headbutt walls on purpose. Each traveller has some HP and each time they get blocked on their onward journey, they lose a heart. Sometimes you have to tactically foul a traveller with more HP to hold them back to let the weaker travellers through unscathed. Of course, you need to ensure each move counts and you aren’t just saving up problems for later on their routes but that is the crux of BlockAid. You can plan for all you can see, and you do get two turns advanced warning of a new character entering the playing area, but you are in a constant juggling act. Since you can’t change their paths, you just have to make the best of the job you’ve been given.

Leaving behind a wall in your footsteps, sometimes its better to let travellers headbutt something to stop the traffic jam.

As a game, I find BlockAid ends up in my “I’ve got 10 minutes, give it a bash” collection. I’d never say let’s grid the game for several hours but each time I return to it, its a joy to play. This is only slightly blighted by two things. BlockAid seems to crash on exiting the game on Windows 10 64bit (what I run at the moment) every time. The leaderboard functions therefore don’t work either. I wish the developer would consider patching the game for this to work but alas, nothing has been patched since 2016. If you don’t mind that, this is a curious hidden gem I’d recommend to all casual puzzle fans. You can take your time for each move and make it count, so you are under no time pressure either. Oddly addictive.

Final Thoughts
A simple, small puzzle game that executes its idea superbly. The perfect "I've got 10 minutes, lets dive in" puzzler.
Simple to understand but gets complex quickly.
Each run is different although the mechanics stay the same.
Go at your own pace - every move counts - making it a thinkers puzzler.
Leaderboards no longer work.
Crashes on exit on Windows 10.
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