Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords

When the civilized world is under threat from undead nasties, it's usually time to break out a Resident Evil game or a full-on shooter and lay waste to the hordes of incoming zombies. An even better idea is to create a fully-fleshed-out world, filled with interesting characters and history, in the form of a cracking RPG. Fitting the bill perfectly is Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords, a game that blends strategy, puzzle solving and traditional RPG elements to create one of the most involved games for the Playstation Store. The game begins with you selecting a class of character, with the usual choices being presented, including wizards, knights and several more. Your choice won't affect a huge amount, but it will give you slightly different strengths in battle, and will certainly influence your upgrade path following each increase in level.

Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords

The actual fighting shares familiar turn-based elements with standard RPGs, but rather than featuring characters lined up on a battlefield, sprinting towards eachother with swords, or sending balls of fire spiralling into opponents, battles in Puzzle Quest take place on a game board, resembling a cross between Connect Four and Tetris. By connecting lines of matching symbols, you can gain magic power (mana) to power spells learned during your travels, collect money, gather experience, or cause direct damage to the opponent.

In order to make a connection, any one piece can be moved up, left, down or right, which makes an individual move relatively simple. However, the real complexity arises from the fact that, when three or more tiles are connected, they disappear, causing pieces above to drop down. The resulting re-shuffle of the grid can lead to further chained results. Getting big chains of connections is key to outdoing your opponent with spells and other attacks that either damage an enemy's HP, provide some sort of advantage on the current board, or inflict a status effect.

Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords

The simple combat environment is entered from a large open world, featuring cities and smaller towns which your character will gradually explore as part of the main story. Reassuringly for many, there are few random battles (and they can be seen from the world map), with most combat resulting only from quest elements. This solid, tactical element of the game is backed up by an interesting plot, with your character meeting numerous varied and unique characters that contribute significantly to the story. An early mission sees you seeking help from an outcast who's history is shrouded in mystery and pitched in such a way that you feel a genuine desire to discover more about the mystery man. In traditional RPG fashion, you recruit many characters to your party, each contributing their own individual strengths to aid you in battle (for example, some characters give you an immediate points advantage against undead creatures). This makes it a genuine joy to explore the Puzzle Quest universe, continually learning more about its residents and their fascinating stories.

If fighting the undead and exploring a colourful fantasy world isn't enough to keep you interested in the game, there are plenty of other tasks you can choose to undertake. Firstly, if you face one of the more generic enemies (a giant spider, goblin or something like that) more than three times, you can choose to capture the enemy (involving a slight variant of the usual grid game) and take them to your own citadel. Once there, you can train your captured enemies to be beasts you can ride into battle, augmenting your own strength. That's not all that's on offer in your citadel; you can also improve your own skills and purchase improved attributes by giving tributes to higher beings. Lastly, if one citadel isn't enough, you can expand by capturing other cities and adding them to your own civilization. Whilst this element is not as involved as something like Civilization Revolution, it does succeed in further improving a great RPG adventure.

Puzzle Quest certainly isn't a game everyone would enjoy, since it revels in many of the more old-fashioned RPG and puzzle-game elements, but for anyone seeking a rich, interesting universe, filled with vibrant characters and exciting adventures to embark on, Puzzle Quest is a perfect store title. The strategic side to the game has moments of randomness, with luck playing its part on occasion, but it's a game that will keep you thinking, rather than simply letting you follow a single, linear path set by lazy developers who just want you to see a series of pre-packaged set pieces. As far as puzzle games go, there's little that I can recommend over Puzzle Quest. The game might not have the immediacy of something like Super Puzzle Fighter, but it is a fantastic title that is easily capable of providing hours of enjoyment.

Game details

Game logo

Publisher:

D3 Publisher

Developer:

Infinite Interactive

Players:

1-2

Online:

2

Release:

2008-12-11

Trophies:

0

Review summary

Gameplay:

Extremely addictive and brilliant fun to play

Graphics:

Very basic, but effective enough

Sound:

Decent battle music, but average overall

Lastability:

Tremendous depth and online play too

8.7

Supernova

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Joker

Argh! You want me to go crawling through the ducts again.

EDI

I enjoy the sight of humans on their knees.

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That is a joke.

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