Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords – Reviewed

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There are many genres in video gaming. First person shooters, platformers, music rhythm games, RPGs, and puzzlers are several of the most popular. However, the latter two need to be singled out for a specific reason; they remain very much unchanged since their conception.

Enter Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords. One brief glance at the game would lead you to believe it’s your standard take on the genre. Match three gems of the same colour to clear them from the playing field. In this sense, it is a fairly traditional puzzler except, it isn’t just a puzzler. It’s an RPG puzzler. A blend of two distinct and vastly different genres. It’s an unlikely match-up that works shockingly well in practise.

Each different coloured gem on the board corresponds to particular type of mana. Mana is used to cast different magic spells with can have a variety of different effects such as damaging your enemy or changing gems from one colour to another. Yes, enemy and yes, damage. Two concepts that are completely alien to the puzzle genre.

Let’s take a step back. There’s a large, beautifully hand drawn map to explore in the game. You visit towns and cities to obtain quests and to buy new equipment such as armour and swords. The puzzle aspect of the game doesn’t come into play until combat is initiated with an enemy. In order to defeat your opponent, you must reduce his health points to zero. This can be done through spells but more usually through matching three skulls, which take off a sizeable chunk of health. It sounds simple and at it’s base level, it is. Puzzle Quest is both straightforward and complex. You can play it the way you want. Strategically make moves and plan ahead or hope that luck will carry you through. The game can be played in both ways.

What is both a blessing and a curse of is the aforementioned aspect of luck. There’s a heavy reliance on luck, as it is a puzzle game and some aspects are just out of the player’s control. One battle may be over swiftly and easily and end in your favour while the next may result in a hammering. It’s certainly frustrating when your opponent manages an endless streak of luck and almost feels cheap at times.  It’s an aspect of the genre that needs to be accepted, no matter how many white hot moments of rage it may cause.

A breath of fresh air is quite possibly the most accurate way to describe Puzzle Quest. It successfully manages to blend two genres seamlessly and provides for a very enjoyable experience. Even if the computer tends to be a cheating fucker occasionally.

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