Tandis review: The ultimate geometry-based puzzle game

By moving simple shapes from one grid to the next, <em>Tandis</em> players can apply mathematical functions to their shapes and enjoy immediate shape-shifting results—all used to solve the game's tricky, unique puzzles.

Enlarge / By moving simple shapes from one grid to the next, Tandis players can apply mathematical functions to their shapes and enjoy immediate shape-shifting results—all used to solve the game’s tricky, unique puzzles. (credit: Mahdi Bahrami)

The puzzle-gaming genre of “making shapes out of formulas” is currently ruled by a single designer. Five years after his last sensational stab at the genre, Iranian-born game-maker Mahdi Bahrami has returned with an even more impressive—and, at times, hair-pullingly difficult—puzzling masterpiece.

Tandis, out this week on both Steam and as a direct, DRM-free purchase for $15 (temporarily on sale for $13.49), is arguably the coolest execution of high-level math I’ve ever seen in a PC game. Even better, its challenge is disguised in the form of a tinker-toy. Hand this to any young, budding mathematician, and watch them get hooked on what’s ultimately a brilliant edutainment gem in disguise.

Axes and allies

The beauty of Tandis comes from how it turns the formulaic manipulation of X, Y, and Z axes into a gaming mechanic. Typical education about mathematical formulas revolves around plotting solution results on a 2D grid to see what shapes they generate. That’s fine enough—though doing this requires the mathematical grokking of a formula itself. But what if you could do this kind of thing much faster, and in 3D, by dragging shapes onto an easily understood series of grids, then watching them transform into fantastic new shapes in response?

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