Totem Quest in Review – Totem if you got ‘em

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In my now long list of Puzzle games I’ve reviewed for TouchMyApps I’ve played all sorts of games, from those that are really just “survive until you lose”, to ones that are trying to achieve a more Puzzle Quest-like story driven narrative. Totem Quest is a story driven kind of puzzle game; good in many respects, but not exceptional.

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The puzzle aspect of the game has a nice twist to the usual ‘match three’ formula. Yes, you still need to match at least three, but you do so by touching the puzzle pieces in each square, which then turns the piece one time clockwise, until you’ve got three of the same color lined up so they can snap together. Those pieces will then start to shake for a few minutes, allowing you a few seconds to add an additional piece to the chain, should there be one adjacent to your match that you can rotate in time.

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Matching a number of chains in a row will earn you a power up, which will be randomly placed on the board. These power-ups are used by tapping the square they’re in, and they’ll remove pieces in different ways (an explosion, an entire row or column, etc). The power-ups will increase in power depending on how many jewels you’ve collected (jewels are located in the middle of some puzzle pieces, they are collected when you clear that piece).

The goal of each puzzle is similar to Azkend, you want to highlight all the tiles beneath each puzzle piece. Clearing pieces of three or more, will highlight those tiles beneath, although there are exceptions. There are times when a piece is locked in place by chains, which will only be removed after you’ve created a match with that piece (and the chain prevents you from turning that piece, so you must rotate the pieces around it.) Also sometimes the color of the tile beneath the puzzle pieces means you must clear the puzzle piece above multiple times before the tile will be highlighted. Once the entire board is highlighted, the level is completed.

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There is also a timer, running down on the right side of the screen. For each match you make, more time is added back on the clock, and running out of time never really seemed to be a problem for me. The harder part is clearing blocks that are in the most extreme part of the board, like the lower corners. Fortunately, over the course of even level, you will earn another powerup, shown as a tomahawk on the lower left side of the screen. Once it is glowing you can use it by first tapping on the tomahawk, then tapping on one piece on the board. The tomahawk will clear that piece for you (and highlight the tile beneath).

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Tying all these levels together is a story about you going on a journey to collect Totems, and as you complete levels, coverings over the Totems will slowly peel away to reveal your eventual reward. With each totem comes new power-ups for you to use, and along with other trophies and achievements you can win, there are certainly lots of reasons to keep playing.

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But there’s also a few things keeping Totem Quest from being a really great game. For starters, the screen is just laid out poorly. There’s lots of space wasted on unimportant things, and the puzzle itself suffers because of it. The puzzle should take up the majority of the screen space, but because it’s so reduced, the pieces are very tiny. I was often hitting the wrong piece and rotating it, since it’s just so hard to be completely accurate. I suspect a lot of this has to do with a conversion from this being a Windows based game– but I think more time should have been spent localizing it to maximize to being iDevice specific. I should note that the puzzle can be zoomed in (and back out), but you lose the full view of the puzzle as you do so, which isn’t really a help to me.

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It’s also got an odd combination of graphics. The backgrounds for the story part of the game are beautifully illustrated, but the game board itself is rather bland. There’s nothing particular striking about the puzzle pieces or the game boards, nothing that really makes it pop out at you. Still, there isn’t anything fundamentally flawed about Totem Quest either, and if you’re looking for a game with a similar feel to Azkend, Totem Quest is worth a try. I give it a Tap It rating.

Note: CTXM has released a free lite version of the game for all to try. If you’d rather give it a whirl before you buy, you can download Totem Quest Lite here.

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App Summary
Title:Totem Quest Puzzle Match (v1.1)Developer:CTXM
Price:$3.99App Size:27.9 MB
  • Story driven puzzle game
  • Incentives in the form of trophies
  • Board is a little too small
  • Graphics are hit and miss

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