Like lots of other people I’ve been hooked on playing Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords. On the surface it looks a lot like Bejeweled, but it’s actually much deeper than that. At the start of the game you create your character and pick a class out of: druid, warrior, knight and magician. Each class its own set of spells, so pick wisely. If you are the kind of player who wants to change mana into damage, the warrior is for you, knights have spells like “divine right” that lets them claim all the purple experience stars on the grid and wizards spells like “haste” that deal bonus damage if you get an extra turn. Once you make your hero you’re ready to start exploring the world of Etheria.
Research at Play-Asia
You start Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords in training at Bartonia castle, which gives the game a chance to teach you the rules of battle. The board looks a lot like Bejeweled with colored orbs, but each of these orbs represent one of the four types of mana: fire, air, earth and water. If you match three of the mana orbs together you earn mana, which can be used to activate spells. After you take a turn your CPU controlled opponent makes a move and you go back and forth until someone runs out of HP. Matching three skull pieces in a row is the easiest way to do damage. Since you’re alternating between two players you have to think one move ahead. If you match up three mana pieces and line up skulls for your opponent you’re going to take damage on the next turn. The CPU is merciless and it will take every opportunity to match skulls and line up four pieces in a row to get extra turns. You have to forget matching whatever you see, instead you have to match what you need. Get the right mana to cast spells, swipe purple pieces that give instant experience point bonuses and match gold icons for extra money.
When you earn enough mana you can cast spells like “challenge” that increases the damage of both players and “stun” which damages an opponent and gives you an extra turn. Spells take up a turn too, but some spells have bonus requirements where if you have enough mana you won’t lose a turn when casting it. One thing that makes Puzzle Quest interesting is each opponent has their own set of spells. You will run into skeletons that have an ability to wake the dead and change skulls into +5 skulls that do more damage. Vampire bats use vampire to leech life from players and orcs have enrage a fire ability that lets them do extra damage. There is one situation that prevents players and the enemy from casting spells, mana drain. If the board ever gets into a position where there are no more matching moves both players lose all of their mana and the 8 x 8 grid is refilled with new pieces.
Between battles you’re on a world map where you can accept quests from the Queen in Castle Bartonia and follow the story. Story scenes are told like a GBA game or Fire Emblem where portraits and text bubbles explain what is happening. Some quests follow the storyline while others are optional sequences that let players build up their characters. Most quests have players go to a location and then click on it to activate a battle. You can take part in four quests at one time and after four you have to complete one quest before you can accept another. On the map you can also talk to folk at the tavern and listen to rumors. There are also shops where you can buy rule bending equipment. Armor like mirror mail reflects damage back to enemies, a helmet gives a chance to reduce damage and weapons increase the damage you do when you match skulls. Later on you will be able to use the puzzle grid to forge your own items and make your own spells.
It sounds like a strange combination, but by adding in RPG elements to the traditional match three gameplay Puzzle Quest is one of the most addictive and strategic games you will play. It’s easy to get into and there are always opportunities for instant action, which makes a good portable game. You can quickly get into battles by running into enemies on the map or by triggering events from quests. Or you can select “instant action” from a menu and tune your puzzle fighting skills without searching for a fight. If you want to try something original ore are into thinking games check Puzzle Quest out. It’s one of those rare games that will itching to play it during your lunch hour.