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UFO: Unidentified Falling Objects

UFO: Unidentified Falling Objects

Written by Elliot Hilderbrand on 8/14/2023 for PC   SWI  
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I remember when my brother bought his original Game Boy; that was way back when a game came with the console. In my brother’s case, that game was Tetris. The effect that Tetris had, not only on me, but my brother and dad, was big. For a decade, my dad would sit and play Tetris every night, bragging about how big the rocket he would get would be. It became such an addiction for him that we ended up buying him his own Game Boy Pocket so he wouldn’t steal either of ours every night. The effect Tetris had over me wasn’t as big, but I still found myself seeing the shapes in the carpet or on my ceiling at night. The feeling Tetris gave me is a dragon I have been trying to chase down ever since. I feel like I can come close, but I never quite catch that feeling. Any time I see a new puzzle game that looks like it carries some of the gameplay elements, I’m always up to take a look; today, that is UFO: Unidentified Falling Objects. With all the recent government hearings about UFOs, this one seemed to hit in a timely manner.

In UFO: Unidentified Falling Objects you control a spaceman while four different colored blocks, or sometimes grey, randomly fall onto the screen. The blocks are colorful, giving off an atmosphere of a young kids game. Your spaceman can shoot any block he likes, destroying it, but the more blocks of the same color that are touching each other, the bigger the bonus you receive when destroying them. You can also kick blocks across from one side to the other, this is where the skill part is involved. You get a few seconds before a block falls to see what color it is, allowing you to make any changes to what is on the floor. But blocks are not the only thing falling. Random enemies will spawn from blocks, blocks that are spikes, or even rockets that aim for you can come out. Your spaceman takes damage from just about all of there. Also, the bottom of the floor is covered in spikes, so if you clear all the way down, you will take damage too. 

Each world has a list of challenges to complete to earn currency that can go to new weapons, armor, or new ways to kick blocks. None of the upgrades are game-breaking, more like giving you different playing styles. Would you rather float when you jump from block to block, or have a slow jetpack? Personally, the jetpack is where it’s at, it makes shooting down rockets a breeze. There’s a second currency you earn while playing that will unlock additional worlds to visit. Those take longer to earn, and require you to have a higher skill. You have to earn so many points in a game, shoot down a certain number of rockets, or stay alive for a certain amount of time. That’s where this feels less like Tetris and more like a modern-day puzzler; there is always something to work towards. 

Let’s talk about first impressions. I was not impressed by UFO: Unidentified Falling Objects with my first game. I wanted more Tetris vibes but found myself getting more Puyo Puyo. Nothing wrong with that, I assumed blocks meant Tetris. I was being unfair. My first handful of games didn’t last more than a few minutes. I was dying to all sorts of things I didn’t see coming; rockets, snakes that popped out of blocks, spikes. That’s when I realized I was playing something with more depth than I was giving it credit for. I need a strategy to get further in. Do I break a big chain of ten blocks even if it means I will have less floor to move around, now I have to take the spike floor into account. Should I aim to eliminate half the colors but keep the other half? Do I just want to stay alive as long as I can to earn that currency? I also only have a few seconds to decide what I want to do because more and more blocks keep falling. I don’t even know what to say about how crazy the game can feel on later levels.

I wanted to wait for the game to release before finishing this review because I wanted to try the online multiplayer mode. From the looks of it it plays a lot like Tetris 99, where you don’t interact with the other people you are playing against so much as just trying to be faster at the game than they are. You play your own game and your actions make the game harder for the people you play against, and vice versa. But I was unable to play. Once the game went live to purchase I tried to find an online game, either a 1v1 or a 1v20 but had zero success. Hopefully in time that will change. There is also a couch co-op that plays similarly. If I had someone to play who would be as competitive as me, I would love it. Instead, I have my wife who, “just wants everyone to have a good time.” 

UFO: Unidentified Falling Objects looks colorful but generic when you first turn the game on. It also looks interesting but simple. Blocks fall, you shoot them, repeat. But there is more than meets the eye of the initial look. Just as much strategy as other, big-name puzzle titles. UFO adds platformer-style tropes, couch co-op, and online features to help add meat to the bones. While I couldn’t find an online match, I hope that will change as this game ages. At a price point of $15 UFO: Unidentified Falling Objects is almost a no-brainer to add to your list of casual puzzle games to grab.

The gameplay loop to UFO: Unidentified Falling Objects is simple enough, but addicting, at least for a while. You can watch a trailer for this game, and you can even play for a little bit and think you know what you are doing, but you would be wrong. The further I dig into UFO the further it gets away from just being a casual puzzler. The online multiplayer would probably help drive that thought if I could find a match. This is a smaller title; its price reflects that, but in a good way. The gameplay is sharp, pixels even sharper, and just a fun time overall, just don’t rely on playing online.

Rating: 7 Average

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

I'm pulled towards anything that isn't driving or sports related; having said that, I love a good kart racer. I Can't get enough RPGs, and indies are always worth a look to me. The only other subject I pay any attention to is the NFL (go Colts!).

While writing about games is my favorite hobby, talking is a close second. That's why I podcast with my wife Tessa (it's called Tessa and Elliot Argue).

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