Oct 14, 2013

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Puzzle Knights Review

Puzzle Knights Review

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Very few games are able to make that daring attempt at something never done before. Perhaps that’s what indie and mobile platforms seek to accomplish, and it’s certainly what the developers at Mojaro were certainly trying to accomplish.  Developed and published by the team at Mojaro for the iPhone and iPad, this fusion of the RPG and puzzle genres is certainly something that’s been attempted and sounds very interesting in theory.  However, Puzzle Knights, available for free at the App Store, shows us that these seemingly unrelatable genres are just that: unrelatable.  Puzzle Knights is a combination of RPG and puzzle elements that falls far short of the fun it promises.

There are two parts to the gameplay: puzzle matching and RPG-fighting.  The puzzle matching is just another form of Bejeweled.  This part of the game is meant to fill up the stamina bar for your knight.  Filling up the stamina bar allows you to engage in battles with other knights and other players.  When I say it’s just another form of Bejeweled, I mean just that.  You’re matching at least three jewels horizontally or vertically and there are bonus mechanics that essentially allow you to build up stamina faster. All in all, it is Bejeweled in a nutshell.  You can also buy stamina using the gold you earn from your knight’s battles but I would recommend just using the Bejeweled game to gain stamina as there is no benefit to using one over the other.

Of course the puzzle element of the game leads into the other part of the game: the RPG element.  This part of the game involves a one-on-one fight between the player’s knight and another knight.  The stamina seems no more useful than allowing players to battle. It doesn’t seem that you need your stamina bar to be totally filled as you’ll be able to fight without a full stamina bar, thus making filling it totally up, even in one go with bonuses, totally meaningless. For the whole time I played it, I found that the totality of stamina expends itself by the end of the battle.  Another mechanic of the RPG fighting is the combat.  In this mechanic the player has three commands: attack, defend, and counterattack.   You’ll be able to combine these into 5 scripts: (i.e. attack, counterattack, defend, defend, attack, etc.) and essentially you’ll watch your knight execute these attacks in succession against another knight, be it a bot or another player.  Unfortunately, you have no idea the scripts of your opponent, so the outcome of a battle is left to chance.  The result is your knight gains experience and every victory earns you a small amount of gold.

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You’ll be able to use the gold you earn to buy upgrades for your knight like new armor, weapons, shields, helmets, and items.  However, even these seem to have meaningless effect.  Even with the most basic knight starting out, I was able to defeat players that had obviously upgraded their weapons and armor. I was able to buy some of the most powerful weapons and armor that the game offered.  Yet, I still found myself losing to players who had even the most basic of armor and weapons.  You’re going to find that the in-game store sells bunches of gold that range from $0.99 to $100.  The effect of using your hard earned cash to buy the upgrades is a purely cosmetic result.  I found no discernible increase of success despite the increase of attributes that came with this customization.

This game doesn’t seem to have any replayability. Overall, Puzzle Knights is a game you play to occupy the time when you’re waiting for the bus or in a theater waiting for a movie to start.  Other than instances like that, I found no element of the game fascinating enough to draw me in to play it in during my free time.

The sound in this game is overly simple.  Expect a simple tune you can play to while playing the puzzle matching game.  In the knight matches, expect much of the same with a bit of a medieval theme mixed in.  The sound effects are much the same in their simplicity.  Sounds corresponding to shield bashing, swords clashing, and stabbing are fairly generic as are the sounds corresponding to successful matches and bonuses in the puzzle matching.

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The graphics are fairly simple, as can be expected for an iOS game.  If anything about the graphics is worth mentioning, the knight battles are somewhat fun to watch, despite how generic they seem.  There is no variety in the moves you can execute (i.e. attack, defend, counterattack) the only variety is how you combine them.   Given that the matches are short, I didn’t encounter any problems with going online to pit my knight against other players.  Fortunately, the game is supported by GameCenter, complete with leaderboards and achievements.  However, whether the game is compelling enough to play through to these achievements depends on the player.

Overall, this game attempts to do something new by combining two distinct genres: puzzle and RPG.  Ultimately though, the attempt falls short.  While one part of the game leads into the other, the experience ultimately leaves you with the feeling that these two genres have no business being used together.  The jewel matching builds up stamina so that I could play the RPG-fighting aspect of the game, but the two parts ultimately feel disconnected.  Other parts of this game feel just as ineffectual.  The customizing and leveling up my knight ultimately felt ineffectual.  Whether it was customizing their armor, editing their scripts, or even leveling up, the results battles I engaged in, with players on higher or lower levels or with weaker or stronger armors, felt like they were left up to chance and victory and defeat was all hinged on luck.  As a result, this game may find players in some but for most people are likely to pass on this game.

Puzzle Knights
Platform: iOS
Genre: Puzzle, RPG
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Developer: Mojaro
Publisher: Mojaro
ESRB Rating: 9+
MSRP: Free with In-App Purchases


5.5
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