Review by chemical_ending

"Solid multiplayer gaming here, with a broken single player experience"

I hate number scores for reviews because this game is a brilliant multiplayer game, however by itself it suffers from serious flaws.

The game is a puzzle game at heart, you try to match coloured icons which have different effects. The four different coloured gems respond to a boost in that coloured mana, skull gems result in a direct attack against your opponent, purple gems give you experience and gold icons give you gold. The interesting aspect of this game comes from the spells you use to attack the player using your built up mana reserves.

Very addictive gaming here.

There is an RPG component in that you level up and build up your skill which effect gameplay and get weapons that give you bonuses (such as doubling your mana gain from specific gems).

As puzzle games go the graphics do the job well. When it comes to the quest side of things the text size is abysmal! It requires you get up to read the minuscule writing, which is strange as it's not a graphically dominant game so why the small text size is beyond me.

The victory music is so freaking annoying and nothing cancels it out (except turning off the sound). There is no dialogue to speak off, this was a bare bones effort with many cut backs to usual standards. The music however is pretty good and doesn't get annoying easily.

The RPG component of this game is simple grinding. You're playing gem games against monsters, then you'll be playing gem games to capture monsters, you then get to play gem games to learn new spells and finally you'll play gem games to capture or recapture towns. Are you getting it yet? If not, you'll probably play the gem battle game until you do. The is little variation to this game mode.

The storyline didn't engage my interest at all and I found myself skipping most of the dialogue. Why? Because I couldn't be bother whipping out the microscope to read this tiny tiny words and the end result was always the same: gem battle time!

There are some serious flaws to this game but there is one that annoys me to the point of frustration, to the point of screaming: The gem drops are completely random! Once you clear gems from the board, more drop from the top. You have no say or warning as to what is going to drop.

So what's wrong with that, I hear you ask.

Well, your character will have 100 or so hit points once you get up some levels, enough to start playing some decent long battles, especially when you fight against towns with 300+ hit points. Now, I've been winning, after 20 or so minutes when a random drop will start chaining reactions. Chain reactions that you have no say over, the computer will literally instant kill you by one random attack. Even if they don't kill you outright, they'll leave you with so little health that your opponent needs only to sneeze and game over.

Over time, you pick up tricks to help limit the risk from random gem drops, but even then, you can sometimes find yourself on the receiving end of a combo attack that only ends when you're dead.

What fun.

Another problem is the lack of variety to the gem game, there is only one mode, destroy gems. You can change the rules halfway, you can play on a smaller grid or anything, it's all locked in. This isn't a problem at first because the game is very addictive to play. But after 100 or so battles, it begins to lose its lustre.

The final problem is the fact that the developers have paired this game with the Warlords franchise but have taken little from it. One of the best aspects of Warlords is the fast paced combat where you can have huge battles relatively quickly. Sadly aside from some of the character names there really isn't much dealing with Warlords. So what was the point of it all?

The randomness of the gem drops also makes it the perfect multiplayer game at a party because it ensures that no one person can dominate over others. But getting people into the game at a party can be hard because of the level of detail involved, it isn't a game that one can just pick up and play without reading instructions.

This game is good, but severely flawed. It's still addictive as hell, but it left me feeling very melancholic about the whole endeavour because this title really had potential to be great. It's in all the discount bins, I picked it up for a whopping $10AU which is well worth the price for a solid multiplayer title.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.0 - Poor

Originally Posted: 07/01/10

Game Release: Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords (AU, 03/27/08)

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