The sensation of matching jewels together, watching them disappear and setting off an atomic chain reaction, netting me an enormous amount of points. Puzzle Quest is the best puzzle game I’ve played since Bejeweled. That’s because this game is Bejeweled, only better thanks to some minor design choices that make this game a compelling package only a fool would overlook. Puzzle Quest tries to shake up the puzzle-genre by adding a story and RPG elements to distance itself from the thousands of freeware clones on the net and carve out its own unique existence in the gaming universe.
Like classic RPGs , there are innumerous amounts of beasts and people walking around trying to kill you for no good reason at all. You defeat enemies by beating them in a puzzle game. The basic premise of Bejeweled remains intact during combat. There’s four different colored orbs, each representing an element. Red is fire, blue is water, green is earth and yellow is wind. You match 3 or more of one type of orb to add it to your mana pool. After you acquire a certain amount of mana, you can unleash spell that you’ve learned. Spells generally range from healing, attacking or altering the field to your advantage. In addition to mana orbs, there are also skulls, purple stars and gold coins. You and your enemy have HP and you deplete it by matching the skulls. Purple stars nets you EXP, which levels up your character plus your stats, and gold allows you to buy weapons and armor.
The story is nothing Oscar worthy. You’re a knight under the service of your queen and people are disappearing in the kingdom. The queen decides that this matter is of such great importance that she decides to only send you out to figure out what’s happening. It’s cliched but at least they put a story in a genre that’s usually lacking. Of course if you want to wander around and just fight that’s your choice. Apart from the main quest, there’s various side quests that you can complete for gold, EXP and, in rare cases, items. You can also capture monsters to learn their abilities and unlock more customization options for your characters. As odd as this sounds, you can also conquer towns. If you beat it in a game, You’ll own it, obtaining gold every time you visit the town. (Conquering a town by playing Bejeweled sounds about as odd as playing a children’s card game to save the world. I’m looking at you, Yugioh)
The game has a few faults but nothing that denigrates the experience too much. The boss fights are really tough, with the final boss being nigh impossible. Despite my pwning the minions, most of the bosses I beat by dumb luck. The magic selection the bosses have lead to insane combos. Some fights I only got two turns before having my @$$ handed to me. Another fault is the level cap, which for some odd reason is set at 50, instead of the usual 99. When your levels are nothing more than stat bonus, (with an occasion spell learned here and there) it feels somewhat out of place to put a cap on how many you can have. What if RPGs didn’t have a level cap? Do game designers put that in there because they know some OCD gamers wouldn’t play without having a pinnacle to reach?
If Puzzle Quest sounds a bit familiar, it is. Its charm lies in its simplicity. Unless you hate fun and addicting games, there’s no logical excuse to not buy this game. It’s on nearly all platforms.