Dr. X is the world’s most brilliant scientist, having revolutionized everything with his inventions. And we mean everything. Robo-dogs, teleporters, moving sidewalks, you name it. Of course, with a name like Dr. X, you know he’s going to be insane. As his name requires, he eventually invented a giant killing machine, which got him fired from MegaTech. So he invents one more thing to take revenge. You.
You are TOM, a virus created by Dr. X to infect and destroy all of the wonderful inventions that he came up with before getting fired by MegaTech. Of course, they won’t take this lying down, so as the game goes on, you’ll have to contend with all sorts of antivirus measures, from firewalls that hide tiles to drones that will drain your energy. Navigating the pipe puzzles and figuring out how to route the energy in each level is enjoyable, yet challenging.
Each level is set up rather like a round of Pipe Dream. There are tiles with connecting pipes in them on the grid, and your job is to light them all up with energy by rotating them until they form a solid, unbroken web. You’ll have to contend with hidden tiles that you only see for a second or when they have energy flowing through them and with virus-catching drones that will drain your energy. You do gain the ability to fight these drones eventually, as you can lay traps that will stop or destroy them. More obstacles await the further you go.
As you would expect from a good puzzle game, the levels get progressively more difficult and complex. However, you will never find yourself spending a long time on a puzzle only to lose at the very end. They are fast-paced and never take too long, despite getting pretty complex at points. The real challenge is in competing with your friends for the fastest time, which you will find yourself doing a lot. The level select menu shows you the leaderboard of times for all your friends on each level, just to tempt you to keep trying to beat them all.
A Virus Named TOM does include local multiplayer as well, if you get tired of the single-player portion. There are around 50 new puzzles that you and up to three friends can solve, all of them adjusted to work with multiple viruses working on them. A competitive multiplayer mode is present as well, and it works a lot like a variant of Bomberman. Your goal is to hook up as much territory to your energy source as possible, but if you get killed your opponents can steal your tiles. To go on the offensive, you can drop four-directional bombs on the grid in an effort to blow everyone else up. It’s a blast, and it’ll make you yell at each other in the way only video games can.
A Virus Named TOM works well as an enjoyable brainteaser, despite the somewhat limited variety it presents thanks to the fact that most levels will either be beaten or lost within a few minutes. It’s short enough to not wear out its welcome, but has enough replay value to make it a worthwhile purchase for fans of puzzlers.
Pros: detailed graphics, challenging puzzles, lots of replay value
Cons: lack of variety, hidden tiles can be frustrating