Let’s be honest -- when Infinite Interactive released Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords in 2007, it didn’t reinvent the wheel. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to marry the addictive activities of gem-matching, leveling up, and butchering orcs with magic powers and broadswords. But make no mistake, by simply combining those elements, the Australian developer stuck gold. Many sleepless nights were spent matching skulls, and engaging “just one more” troll before putting the controller down for the night.
Puzzle Quest (Nintendo DS, Xbox LIVE Arcade)
It wouldn’t be surprising to find the words “IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX IT” scrawled across a whiteboard somewhere in Infinite Interactive’s offices during the development of Puzzle Quest 2. While Galactrix seemed like an experimental take an already successful formula, this true sequel reaches back and borrows so heavily from the original that’s it’s almost an identical game. Almost, but not quite.
While this might sound monotonous and bit “one-trick,” it undeniably goes a long way. Never underestimate the compulsion to find and match gems; Bejeweled was a breakout success for a reason -- it’s simple, it’s fun, and it’s highly addictive. What Puzzle Quest (and this sequel) brings to the table can’t be ignored, either. The questing, the leveling up, working to find that next item is a “hardcore” wrapper that does an excellent job of concealing some decidedly casual roots. The upshot is an tremendously addictive title that, despite its seemingly mundane nature, never really gets dull, its accessibility perhaps its biggest strength.
Score: 8 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)
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