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Tens Is Tetris With Maths That’s More Fun Than It Sounds

Platform: PC, Nintendo Switch
Genre: Puzzle, Strategy, Casual

A lot of people hate maths, and that includes me. It stands to reason that someone who dislikes maths or anything involving the calculation would also hate sudoku, that puzzle game with the squares and numbers.

With a description like combining “the tricky number puzzling of Sudoku with Tetris-style block-dropping”, I initially expected to hate Tens by British developer Kwalee with the same passion. Imagine my genuine surprise when I actually enjoyed a game of which *gasp* maths is seemingly at its core.

Sudoku + Tetris = A Potent Combination

At its core, Tens is a simple puzzle game with simple rules. It’s similar to Tetris, but instead of blocks with random shapes, Tens drops dice with random values. Enter the game’s Sudoku inspiration, as the aim of Tens is to place those dice on any square space a five by five board and make sure the total value of those dice in any given row or column equals to ten.

In a basic game of Tens, players score one point for every dice that makes a total value of ten. However, it has to be ten. If the total value of any row or column exceeds ten, they’ll be stuck there until you clear them out by clearing other spaces on the board.

Players lose a game of Tens when they run out of space on the board after getting clogged up by dice (just like Tetris), which happens when too many rows either don’t reach the value of ten or exceeds it.

In practice, the game is very simple, especially at the very beginning. Tens features an Adventure mode, where there are over 70 levels of increasing challenges and even boss battles taking place on various vibrant maps.

The puzzles start out simple, but Tens gradually increases the difficulty by introducing randomness into the board via special squares. Some of these squares on the board can randomly change the value of the dice that you put on it, while others push your dice to the edge of the board in a specific direction.

Most of those 70 levels in Adventure mode involves reaching a particular set amount of points, but the boss battles are when things get intense and fun. During boss battles, I no longer have to reach a high score, but every ten that I make creates a random blocker tile on my opponent’s board. My objective is to create enough block tiles as fast as I can before my opponent does. Whoever runs out of space first loses.

What makes these boss battles fun is the pressure that it puts on me to make rows and columns of tens as fast as I could. The thrill of the boss battles in Tens somehow makes even calculations fun to someone who hates maths like I do.

Seriously, I hate doing manual calculations so much that I always resort to using a calculator for even simple problems involving numbers. Tens has miraculously made me enjoy doing maths (additions and subtractions, at least, and only to a certain extent, of course. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, nothing can make me love maths.)

Before you know it, you’ll be pulling off combos and racking up extra points in Tens. The game isn’t particularly hard, so gamers of all ages can enjoy playing Tens, with the condition that they at least know how to add and subtract.

A Little Accessibility Goes A Long Way

I appreciate the fact that the developers at Kwalee have gone out of their to make Tens accessible to more gamers. In hindsight, it’s not that surprising, considering that Kwalee’s CEO is gaming legend David Darling, who previously founded Codemasters in the 1980s and launched franchises such as Micro Machines.

As you level up in Tens, you’ll unlock more avatars and types of cosmetic dice. You can change how your dice look, and most importantly, Tens offers dice featuring numerical values. If you’re not used to calculating as quickly using normal dice with dots (or pips) on them, you can opt for the one with numerical values instead.

Besides that, Tens also features controller and gamepad support on PC. Despite being a puzzle game, playing Tens with an Xbox controller still felt natural and as seamless as playing it on keyboard and mouse. Kudos to the developers for including all that.

Don’t Like Maths? No Problem

All this talk of maths may put some of you off, but trust me, it’s not as cerebral as something like Sudoku would be. Playing a game of Tens feels more like testing one’s ability to react as fast as they can, and I don’t think you have to be that good at maths to enjoy the game.

That said, the game still involves calculations during gameplay, so if you’d rather not have to do even simple maths while playing a game, then Tens probably isn’t for you. However, if you’re up for a quick brain teaser or two, Tens is a fun and casual puzzle game that’s accessible enough for most people.

Pros

  • Simple and easy to understand.
  • Puzzles gradually get more challenging with the introduction of random mechanics.
  • Bosss battles in Adventure mode are intense and will test your skill.
  • Accessibility options like dice with numerical values and gamepad support.

Cons

  • The gameplay involves calculations. If you don’t like maths (even additions and subtractions), here’s your last warning.

Final Score: 80/100

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