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Puzzle Quest 3 (for PC) Evaluate

After taking part in Puzzle Quest 3 on Steam for a dozen hours, I went out and purchased the 2019 Swap port of 2007’s Puzzle Quest: Problem of the Warlords, Puzzle Quest: The Legend Returns, as a result of the latter is basically superior as each a puzzle sport and a client product.

As its identify implies, Infinity Plus Two’s Puzzle Quest 3 is a sequel to Puzzle Quest: Problem of the Warlords and 2010’s Puzzle Quest 2, launched in early entry on Android in 2021 and launched in early entry on Steam this yr. The primary two video games had been charming and fascinating, as was the sci-fi sidequel Puzzle Quest: Galactrix. Within the decade-plus since these video games got here out, nonetheless, the developer has centered on free-to-play, licensed Puzzle Quest video games for cell gadgets, like Journey Time Puzzle Quest, Magic: The Gathering Puzzle Quest, and Marvel Puzzle Quest. That trajectory has led to the third core sport within the Puzzle Quest collection to make use of a full free-to-play mannequin, somewhat than a single-purchase retail sport. That’s unhealthy sufficient since this mannequin erects boundaries to content material that may solely be handed with lengthy waits or actual cash. It’s made worse by the truth that these boundaries are staggeringly sluggish even for a free-to-play sport.

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3 Instances Is Not the Allure

The core idea of Puzzle Quest 3 is similar as that of the primary two video games. It’s a match-three puzzle sport with RPG parts equivalent to tools, abilities, and character ranges giving a way of development and technique your typical Bejeweleds and Sweet Crushes lack. Every puzzle spherical is a struggle in opposition to an enemy, the place you alternate turns together with your opponent. Completely different gems provide you with various kinds of mana or allow you to assault straight together with your weapon, and you’ll spend mana to make use of abilities to have an effect on the sport board, buff your self, or injury the enemy.

Past merely matching three gems in a row, the puzzle mechanics in Puzzle Quest 3 are barely totally different than the primary sport—and sooner. The 5-by-7 board is far smaller than the unique’s 8-by-8 board, and as a substitute of shifting just one gem at a time you’ve got a couple of seconds to maneuver any gem that may be slid to match three or add on to a match. You too can slide gems diagonally, which suggests you possibly can construct up chains of gems very simply in case you’re quick sufficient (although this speed-based matching most likely feels significantly better on a contact display screen than with a mouse). 

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Puzzle Quest 3

You begin by selecting from one in every of 5 totally different courses: murderer, barbarian, necromancer, paladin, or shaman. Every class has an affinity for various kinds of mana and makes use of distinctive abilities with that mana primarily based round their themes. Assassins can carry out sudden highly effective assaults, barbarians can destroy blocks of gems, paladins can heal, and so forth.

As you play, your character beneficial properties expertise and collects totally different items of apparatus that enhance their stats, and even finds new abilities that may be shuffled out and in of 4 lively slots. Every bit of apparatus will be upgraded utilizing numerous sources, and every has a rarity tier that additional determines its worth. One other sort of collectible useful resource can improve that tools’s rarity, and abilities can be upgraded with yet one more set of sources. You additionally discover companions that present numerous providers and allow facet quests, together with minions that may be despatched out to do your bidding, they usually can all be upgraded with their very own sources as effectively.


Get Able to Wait

This all appears like a whole lot of RPG parts that make the otherwise-simple match-three equation really feel deep and strategic. On paper it does, which is why it labored so effectively for the unique Puzzle Quest 15 years in the past. There are two issues with Puzzle Quest 3’s execution. First the free-to-play facet rears its ugly head, closing the valve on these enjoyable concepts till they arrive out solely because the tiniest trickle.

Puzzle Quest 3

Puzzle Quest 3 makes you wait, and wait, and look ahead to any sense of development. You may get expertise and gold just by taking part in ranges and combating monsters, however you gained’t get anyplace with that alone. Your effectiveness is set primarily by your tools, which you typically solely get from treasure chests. These treasure chests additionally present the totally different sources you must improve something within the sport. You may’t open treasure chests by your self; you must use uncommon keys you sometimes discover, ship your minions to open them (which takes from an hour to a day relying on the rarity of the chest), or pay gems to open them. Gems are the semi-premium forex you should buy with cash or earn slowly in-game as you play via story missions and earn achievements.

The kicker? You may solely have three chests ready for unlocking without delay (4 in case you pay $10 per 30 days for VIP membership). That’s three slots to attend on for any of the sources you desperately must progress.

And that want comes quick. After blazing via the primary “gimme” chapter of the sport’s flimsy story, I bumped into a tough wall close to the top of the second chapter the place the ability numbers (your and your enemies’ well being and injury ranges) for every spherical shot up effectively previous what I had naturally reached. It took an hour to get via the primary chapter and many of the second. It’s been two days ready for chests to unlock so I can improve my gear to face an opportunity on the finish of the second chapter. I finally managed to push previous the second chapter and even the third, however by then the trickling of development was getting slower and slower, and I used to be getting much less and fewer . These staccato spikes in issue rankings appeared almost random, as effectively, with sure story quests rated a lot larger than my present energy numbers and those instantly after them (after getting fairly fortunate) settling again all the way down to an affordable degree. 

Puzzle Quest 3

These mechanics are to be anticipated in a free-to-play sport, however they’re sudden and harsh in Puzzle Quest 3. Puzzles & Dragons and Gems of Battle each progress rather more naturally with out spending cash or ready an interminable period of time. Their vitality techniques restrict what number of rounds you possibly can play without delay, however the pacing by no means feels throttled or unreasonable, and the sources and random loot are balanced pretty effectively whereas nonetheless making microtransactions attractive to get very uncommon monsters or objects.

I really take pleasure in these latter video games. Puzzles & Dragons is persistently a blast (although I’d nonetheless somewhat see a brand new Puzzles & Dragons: Tremendous Mario Bros. Version for the Swap than load up the free-to-play authentic on my iPad). Gems of Battle helped tickle my Puzzle Quest nostalgia whereas nonetheless feeling extra satisfying with its higher pacing of development necessities. I often discover one-purchase video games preferable to free-to-play ones, however even free-to-play will be performed moderately effectively.

To display the monetization facet of the sport, 505 Video games gave me a “welcome pack” consisting of 1,000 crowns (the money-only in-game forex) and a wide range of keys and different objects, in regards to the equal of a $25 buy within the sport. The sources let me advance a very good bit, because of the keys and the power to easily purchase packs of improve materials for five to 25 crowns relying on the tier of merchandise I needed to improve. Shopping for extra keys, alternatively, was totally different story. A key bundle that features one excessive tier key and 5 second-highest tier keys prices 750 crowns, “discounted” from 1,250 crowns. It value $20 to purchase 1,120 crowns. That is with out the $10 month-to-month VIP cross, although that solely gives a day by day bonus of 1 third-highest tier key and numerous retailer affords and reward advantages for development.

The welcome pack helped velocity up bettering my character within the sport, however not wildly, and I nonetheless had to deal with the glacial development to amass and unlock treasure chests if I needed new tools or to proceed upgrading. Via all of this, I saved considering that Puzzle Quest: The Legend Returns is simply $15 on the Swap and options the complete first sport, with DLC and a few extra courses to play.


A Easier Sequel

The second downside with Puzzle Quest 3 is that it’s mechanically a lesser sport than the unique Puzzle Quest, even with out the free-to-play parts. The unique Puzzle Quest had you taking turns in opposition to the opponent, who obeyed the identical motion and talent guidelines you probably did. This meant you needed to suppose forward to ensure your transfer didn’t set the board up in a means that benefitted the enemy, like letting them assault by matching skulls, filling up the mana they want for their very own abilities, or getting further turns by matching 4 or extra tiles in a row. 

Puzzle Quest 3

In Puzzle Quest 3, enemies really feel much less like opponents and extra like health-draining partitions to hurry in opposition to, as a result of they don’t really take turns and transfer tiles on the board. As a substitute, they merely assault you, sometimes utilizing abilities that may change tiles or inflict standing results. There’s no consideration for what transfer they may make after your flip, as a result of they don’t take turns such as you do. They only alternate between dealing injury and utilizing abilities.

Fights are made even much less attention-grabbing by tools and abilities being far easier than in Puzzle Quest. Within the first sport, you had seven talent slots as a substitute of 4, providing you with extra methods to work with in constructing mana and affecting the board together with your talents. On high of that, your weapon and armor had much more distinctive results as a substitute of simply stat and mana buffs, equivalent to offering injury bonuses or creating tiles below sure circumstances. You couldn’t improve particular person tools items or abilities like you possibly can in Puzzle Quest 3, however the sheer variety of results made fights within the first sport a lot deeper.

Worse nonetheless, fights are all you’ll do in Puzzle Quest 3. Each encounter and quest is framed as a collection of one-on-one fights in opposition to enemies, often between two and 5 of them. PVP fights are the exception. These are single matches in opposition to AI variations of different gamers primarily based on their stats and tools. There’s no straight head-to-head between gamers. The primary Puzzle Quest had totally different variations of match-three puzzle video games relying on the scenario, like mounted puzzles to seize monsters or matching sufficient items collectively to supply forge tiles to craft objects. Puzzle Quest 3 solely has shallow, one-sided fights.

Puzzle Quest 3

By way of efficiency, at the least, Puzzle Quest 3 works wonderful. It has easy 3D graphics for characters and enemies, and each their actions and tile results on the board look persistently easy and secure. That is the one benefit the sport has over the 2019 Swap port of the unique Puzzle Quest, which bafflingly chugs throughout massive gem combos. The Home windows model isn’t excellent, nonetheless, and I repeatedly ran right into a bug the place a board would load however I couldn’t work together with something on the display screen, forcing me to shut the sport and restart it.


The Worth of Free-to-Play

In a vacuum, Puzzle Quest 3 would merely be a succesful free-to-play sport with a robust premise hindered by painfully sluggish pacing. With the unique Puzzle Quest in thoughts, it’s a disappointing step again that’s extra shallow and fewer attention-grabbing than its 15-year-old predecessor. And that simply isn’t price it being free, whatever the platform.

Should you do not thoughts spending a couple of {dollars} on the puzzle RPG concept, the primary Puzzle Quest is accessible on Steam for $10, and the Swap port with DLC is $15. If you wish to stick to free and have a smartphone or pill, Puzzles & Dragons continues to be the most effective video games within the style, and its pacing is significantly better, even with none microtransactions.

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Cons

  • Free-to-play mannequin grinds development to a trickle

  • Mechanically easier and fewer participating than the primary Puzzle Quest

  • Little selection between sport modes

The Backside Line

The primary Puzzle Quest mixed match-three puzzles with RPG parts to nice success. Puzzle Quest 3 provides free-to-play mechanics to the pile and finally ends up with far lower than it began with.

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