In Tetragon: Unknown Planes, a mobile game released in 2019 that partners the classic 2D puzzle style with a heartfelt storyline, you play as Lucios, a man who uses the power of the Tetragem to move platforms and create a path to his son. You’ll bend gravity and alter your environments while enjoying a relaxing soundtrack and calming visuals. Now Tetragon has returned on more platforms with the only real change being its shortened name. The puzzle game’s expansion onto PC and console platforms seemed like an understandable response given the game’s success. Unfortunately it’s more proof that not every game works on every platform, especially when it comes to porting a mobile game to consoles.
As a unique take on your standard puzzle game, Tetragon: Unknown Planes stood out on mobile platforms. It was nominated for Best Mobile Game at the 2019 International Mobile Game Awards, among other awards and nominations. When I began playing Tetragon on my PlayStation 5 earlier this month, I was aware of the accolades it received as a mobile game. That’s why I was disappointed in my playthrough.
Tetragon is a good example of a game that should have remained on the platform it was designed for. While the story and visuals remain the same and deserve to be praised, the controls themselves don’t properly translate to a console. The gravity shifting is hard to control, causing Lucios to accidentally fall to his death if you didn’t properly hold the triggers, and there are times where the controls just fail to work altogether. While these are issues that can eventually be fixed, they’re what broke my playthrough experience.
On the PlayStation, the playthrough constantly shifts from widescreen to 4:3. It’s in widescreen for cutscenes and then switches to 4:3 for gameplay, with the controls listed on the sides of the screen. These controls blend well onscreen for the mobile version of Tetragon, but don’t make sense to include in the console version. This is one thing that should have been slightly tweaked for the console version, and its presence makes it feel as if the game wasn’t really optimized for its new platform.
What made Tetragon: Unknown Planes standout on mobile devices was the fact that it created such a niche genre for itself. It was simple, relaxing and provided an entertaining story, all in the palm of your hand. Deciding which platform fits each game seems like an extremely difficult task for developers, as you have to consider factors such as design, quality and profit. While mobile games can be easier to develop, and there are far more mobile phone users than console owners, the smaller screen doesn’t properly support all genres, and the mobile gaming market is extremely oversaturated. Console games have their pros and cons too, with more advanced technology than mobile and a large, passionate audience. Technology can be a double-edged sword, though; high-end console or PC games require huge teams and large amounts of money to create. It can also be tough for smaller titles to find an audience on consoles, which have a heavy rotation of AAA titles that get the vast majority of attention and sales. The Tetragon console version is not only overshadowed by AAA titles, but also by other smaller titles that were designed specifically for the platform.
Given the cons that come with developing a mobile game, I find it extremely impressive when a title succeeds in a unique and entertaining way on the platform. With consoles dominating discourse within the gaming community, and the mobile market being dominated by generic retreads and misleading ads, it is encouraging to know that there’s still space in mobile games for original, creative games. Not every title released on mobile will work on consoles, though, Tetragon would’ve been better suited to remaining on mobile. When a game properly fits the platform it is released on it benefits both the players and developers, allowing the community to appreciate it for what it was meant to be.
Katherine Long is an intern at Paste and a rising senior at American University. She loves hyperpop, roller skating and videogames and can finish a sudoku puzzle in 43 seconds.