Reviewed: April 28, 2007
Released: March 20, 2007
In the great style of genre combining or perhaps just creating new genres by mixing old ones, comes Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords from D3 Publisher. Puzzle Quest combines the addictive gameplay of a great puzzle game with the continued action and adventure of an RPG game.
Take the highly addictive puzzle game of Bejeweled, add in the storyline of a fantastical adventure straight out of Dungeons and Dragons and you get Puzzle Quest. You play the role of an up and coming guard to the queen who needs to prove himself along with upholding the family tradition of serving the lands.
Puzzle Quest is a great role-playing game in the guise of a puzzle game, or is that a puzzle game within a role-playing adventure. However you want to consider it, you start out as a young man in the Queens guard learning the skills required of him to fulfill his service. Your first task is to return home after your father finds a final request from your deceased grandfather where you learn your grandfather wanted you to have an old shield with some writing on it.
Well, you get the shield and continue back to the queen for more adventures. You are given simple tasks that turn out to be a fight against the terrible monsters of the lands and you venture forth with your trusty sword. Just how does a puzzle game fit into this adventure with Elves, Dwarves Magic and Swords?
You fight your opponents by using the puzzles just like Bejeweled but with a twist. In each fight against an opponent you use the puzzle game as your fight scenario having to line up three or more gems or other objects. If three or more skulls are lined up this is a hit and hit points are taken off like in an RPG game.
You can also cast spells that cost certain amounts of mana depending on the spells. Mana is the cost of spells that you learn in four areas or colors. These four colors are the four colors of the gems on the fight puzzle that you earn by matching up. There are offensive and defensive spells that you can cast according to your character and level that cost these mana points after you earn them.
At the start of the game you pick what type of character you want to play as: Druid, Knight, Warrior or Wizard. Each will have spells particular to the type of player you start out as along with your equipment that you will obtain throughout your adventure. When you defeat opponents three times you will be able to capture them and use them to learn their spells as well as learning new ones when you raise levels.
There are a host of other RPG style portions to the Puzzle Quest adventure that create a very unique and addictive gameplay with shades of both great genres combined. You can lay siege to towns and turn them into your fortresses using your siege weapons after you purchase the ability to make them. There are several other RPG aspects to the game that round out the games role-playing style nicely.
Levels are gained when you gain experience from fights and completing quests in the game or you complete a timed puzzle to gain levels for your mounts. Many of the quests unlock new towns or locations but also clear up parts of the story and build up the story line which is a pretty good one. You have the dreaded foe from the north who everyone is afraid of and your allies whose trust you earn along with all kinds of magical creatures such as trolls, orcs, ogres and imps.
The gameplay is very good and you never get bored by traveling around and finding new quests. There is a very good mix to the game with the unhurried traveling and finding your next quest as well as reading the storyline from your encounters. Puzzle Quest’s fighting using the puzzles is a nice break from the games that are simply a button mashing sequence or a fight using the small screen.
They have done a great job combining the two genres to create a nice game that doesn’t need a quick fight to win but a little intelligent puzzle solving to earn your pay. Puzzle Quest has a great style that sets itself apart from the typical RPG that is easy enough to play but a great challenge.
The gameplay for the most part is unhurried which is not typical for many RPG games especially in battles. For most of the fights you can take your time and think your moves through so you have a fair chance at winning even against opponents with many more hit points than you have. This creates a much more even playing field in the fights and the AI is pretty good when playing against in the puzzles.
The graphics and visuals in Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords comes in three distinct flavors; the World Map, your puzzles, and all the other scenes. The World Map is a nice three-dimensional colored map that shows your world and the places you have visited.
You can get from place to place by using the cursor and clicking the X to have your character travel there. If you get into a conflict a small crossed sword icon pops up and you switch to the puzzle scene. The puzzle scene uses the general puzzle along with some decent animations of the spells when they are cast.
When matches of gems or objects occur you get this neat flashy glowing effect and spells look pretty good but the screen can block what you see for a few seconds. During the regular matches fighting opponents this is no problem but some of the matches for leveling up your mounts are times so seeing the screens and having it blocked even for a few seconds could mean you not matching up your gems or objects quickly enough.
The rest of the scenes vary according to what you’re doing and what information you’re trying to find. Talking scenes are pretty good cartoon like drawings that have those little speech balloons so you can get the information the character wants to give you and your answers back to them. These are the typical speech scenes found on many of the PSP games that I am seeing often when there are no voice-overs for games.
The characters you see in the speech scenes talking to you or in informational scenes are drawn very well and are nicely detailed cartoon drawing. There are other screens like your equipment, spells and such that are nicely detailed drawings and make the game very much like a good RPG game with all the details and artwork included. They have done a very nice job and created a well-rounded game with artwork included around a RPG theme.
Sound effects of spells and fighting are pretty good but quite generic in Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords. The sound is very much themed toward fantastical RPG fighting and spells that are pretty good but nothing fantastic. The sound from the PSP is good and fit’s the puzzle games as well as the RPG style quite well.
The general theme music and background sounds are pretty good with some nice sound effects for spells and fighting thrown in at the appropriate times. There are no voices in the game but the spells and fighting have some good effects that are quite realistic.
To play through the quest to the end of the story will not be accomplished quickly as you need to level up to get far in your quest. You will play hundreds of puzzle fights in your questing but it is nicely interspersed with the spell learning, magic item creation and weapon forging.
Not only do you complete quests but you can also lay siege to cities to control them as well as work toward keeping those cities by building towers to keep the inhabitants happy. You can visit inns to hear the latest juicy rumors from other characters or capture enemies to learn their spells or use them as mounts.
There is plenty to do in Puzzle Quest like many RPG games but it is nicely portioned with the puzzle fights so it is interesting and fun. Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords reminds me very much of the Zelda series in the role-playing but with the puzzles for all the fight scenes so there is not some difficult to master moves to vanquish the bosses.
Puzzle Quest also comes with a multiplayer game playable using the Ad Hoc connection. You play a fight puzzle against two heroes using one player’s PSP as the setup and the other to play the game. You can use handicaps so two different levels of heroes can play against each other and have a fair chance at winning as well as set time limits and other variables of the game.
Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords is a great puzzle and RPG game that successfully combines the two genres to create a fun and challenging game. Puzzle Quest uses a very good balance of the puzzles and the RPG theme to create an overall well made game that is interesting and yet challenging. I highly recommend Puzzle Quest if you’re into RPG or puzzle games for a really different and yet playable game with a new twist.