One of the best mash-ups conceived so far (at least in my opinion) is the idea of an RPG that uses a match 3 board for combat. Of course like any good thing there is almost an overabundance of them now, and there are just as many ones that make you go “blah” as ones that captivate you like Puzzle Quest. Fortunately, Puzzle Blade is one of those that fall on the side of captivating the player. The developer has managed to put a fresh spin on the concept and made sure that anyone short of a person suffering from A.D.D. should enjoy it, assuming you’re into the genre in the first place.
You play a character named Puzzelynn, though truthfully the game would probably work just as well with a nameless hero. Your job is to clear out all the evil creatures that have come to the gardens in search of the mystical puzzle gems. You’ll use said gems to vanquish the villains, matching three or more at a time to do some damage. If you match the color the creature emits right before it attacks you can block the attack as well. Periodically power ups and gold will appear on the playing field, and to take advantage of them you’ll need to double tap on them instead of trying to match them. You’ll also get a blast power up when you match five of the same color gem that will either clear an entire row or column when double tapped.
Each round lasts two minutes, but no matter how many creatures you kill you only get to keep the spoils if you survive the entire two minutes. In addition to coins you get a score for each round which can be bolstered by several accomplishments including getting more than 10 gold by defeating a monster or beating one in under 30 seconds. Some score bonuses are based on individual battles and others on the entire round. Money you earn can be used to buy elixirs at the beginning of each round, or they can be used to train various skills which in turn give you experience to level up. As you level up you’ll unlock new things to help you in your quest like new types of gems and additional elixirs.
Control is a simple matter of dragging to swap gems and double tapping to activate a power up. I actually like the double tap idea because that means you can be a bit more strategic about how you use your power-ups. Keep in mind that double tapping a coin also makes the gem that it is on disappear, which can definitely affect game play. Double tapping seems to work fine, though a lot of times gems seem to slide in the opposite direction of what I’m trying to do. I suppose that could just be me. The game does support Game Center for leaderboards and achievements, except there are only 9 achievements and since I had no internet connection when I first played it doesn’t appear to have updated a couple of my achievements that I should have earned right off the bat. Still, the game is entertaining enough that you don’t really need those things to enjoy it.
The aesthetics are a funny thing in this game because they are good, but the game is so fast paced that you don’t get much of a chance to pay attention to them. The characters are well designed and have some decent animation, and there are a few special effects thrown around here and there. Sound is adequate enough with each creature having its own noises and the main character uttering some vocals as well. The background music is actually pretty nice, but the sound effects tend to drown it out such that you don’t realize it’s there half the time. Still, I’d rather have good audio / visual elements that I don’t notice much than silly pictures and bland sound that overwhelm my senses.
Like so many styles of games in the App Store there is getting to be somewhat of a glut of this particular mash up, which makes it all the more difficult to choose ones to play. I would say this certainly qualifies for one to look at even if you think you’ve played it all before. The two minute sessions alone are an appealing aspect of the game, but there are enough other little differences that make it all worthwhile despite the feeling that the game play mechanic has been burnt out. Besides which, at the time I’m writing this the game is free, so what have you got to lose besides the time you spend playing it?
|Title:||Puzzle Blade||Developer:||matthew silverstein|
|Reviewed Ver:||Min OS Req:||6.0|