Like many others here at DToid
, I was really looking forward to Puzzle Quest: Galactrix. Having played the PC demo, I was enjoying things like a fairer combat system, a sci fi story, more characters and more addictive gameplay. I played the hell out of the first Puzzle Quest on the PSP despite the party glitch. I considered buying it for my iPhone and XBLA. I literally did everything I could in the PSP version, captured every enemy I could, trained every mount. I was seeing those little gems and skulls in my sleep. Then I tried the PQ:G demo when it dropped on PC. I was enthralled. I actually liked the demo, it felt different, but it also felt like because of the gravity system, it'd be easier to trick the AI away from cheating, and in the demo, it certainly felt like this was the case.
Of course Day One rolls around and I sacrifice 30 or so dollars of my hard earned cash to pick it up. It was pretty much a hold over until Killzone 2 dropped later that week, but if it was anything like the first Puzzle Quest, it might have even distracted me from that game. That... wasn't the case. I opened the game and popped it in my DS. And I played for about an hour, not really having any fun
the entire time.
"Its Okay," I told myself. Tutorial stages are always a pain in the ass. Then it gives me three crew members I dont have to earn. Well, thats interesting, as in the first Puzzle Quest, very few members were actually just given to me. The thing is, the actual board of Galactrix just isn't very fun, due to it reliance more on luck and random chance then any semblance of strategy, so all the mini games are a lot less fun when you have no control over a gem that could fall from one of six sides, depending on a random cascade.
See the board itself, hexagonal in shape is at the core of the problem in Puzzle Quest: Glactrix. I get the zero gravity fighting thing, it just doesnt work for a game like puzzle quest, as it paradoxically takes out much of the strategy while replacing that with a lot of random luck, yet at the same time remains too complicated for me to pick the game up and play it casually to relax after a long session of Killzone 2 or Left 4 Dead. The over complication of the core concept is what bothers me the most. I hate to use the term casual, but Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords is what Casual gaming was to me
. Not the Wii, but chilling out with the simplicity of number 1, where everything was made obvious and everything was simple and spelled out for me, but the fights still required a bit of thinking and strategy, with only a bit of blind luck. Ok a lt of luck, but strategy certainly played more into it then it does in Galactrix. The fact that a 4 of a kind does not get me another turn bothers me as well, as that was a large part of the strategy of PQ1, you were always looking for a 4 of a kind, while trying to prevent moves that gave your opponent one. Sure the AI cheated in the first game, but its just as bad in this one. I've watched the AI purposely miss a 5 of a kind in order to get a supernova which included 3 bomb chains and created a separate 5 of a kind, of bombs. I died in 3 moves that round and almost punched my DS in it's face. And this was in a random encounter. Only Lord Bane pulled that kind of BS in the first game, and I hate him perhapse more then any other gaming end boss. Really.
But it's not just the game board which over-complicates the game. I know Conrad complained about this as well, but the map is a mess. It not just that it's a chore (like actual work, as opposed to fun) to hack a leapgate, but the actual setup of the map on the DS sucks. And then when you get to a system, you find that there is the same 3 or 4 objects in each system and none of them have a STORE. Crafting weapons sucks. You have to buy or find plans, then you have to mine an asteroid for minerals and technology and the like. Then you have to go to a planet that allows you to craft a ship component. And only then can you equip the thing. I would have been fine with missing out on the item crafting mini game, which is not hard and is not fun and like much of the other game is a chore (and a bore) more then anything. The early game, before you get the shield matrix that allows you to get a bit of your shields back is a royal pain in the ass. I felt like the game was forcing me into taking some side quests to grind.
Basically I really, really want to love this game, but it is hard going. But every time I have to hack a leapgate or mine an asteroid I hate the game a little more. It's almost as if the game doesn't want me to progress and does everything it can to stop me. Actually fighting the ships can be fun, but not enough to make me continue slugging through the monotonous tasks that they've given me to do before I can get to a ship to fight. Its not that I hate complication or luck based games (hell, I love games like Culdcept Saga and Valkyria Chronicles). All said, Im 8-10 hours into the game, and I think I'm done. Instead of torturing myself with this game, I've already started playing the first game again and have been enjoying it again. Its too bad really, and if Infinite Interactive can return the concept to the beautiful simplicity of the original PQ, then I will pick up their next game. I don't mind grinding, but I mind it when I do it and it doesn't feel rewarding or fun. So, sorry Galactrix, but I'm done with you.