Bejeweled + RPG = Addiction

Puzzle Quest will kick your ass and you'll love every second of it. Trust us.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: April 16, 2007
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I think I might actually be beginning to understand the mentality of why someone would stay in an abusive relationship. Puzzle Quest is like a girlfriend who regularly beats you but the make-up sex is so damn good that you actually find yourself defending some of the glaringly obvious faults. Like, say, she cheats all the goddamn time, but that's just making things more challenging, guys.


Yeah, no, it's cheating, and Puzzle Quest does it often enough that you want to chuck that PSP right through the nearest wall. And do you know why? Because it's way, way too addictive. In fact, forget that whole abusive girlfriend analogy and move right over to straight crack, because it probably better represents the whole cycle of so-good/so-bad/oh-god-I-can't-stop. Plus, it avoids the whole concept of make-up sex with a video game.

Here's the gist of it: take puzzle game Bejeweled where you must match up at least three like icons per move (or four to get a free turn, or five to get a free turn and a wild card), throw in role-playing game staples like HP, mana for spells, a fantasy-themed story and enemies like skeletons, orcs, goblins and the undead, and you've got a recipe for a whole lot more awesome than you would imagine from that description.

Every fight in the game is turn-based, there are some basic rules. You can only go once per turn unless you match up four or five of the same colored jewels that correspond to that particular kind of mana, coins for cash and stars for experience. If you somehow botch a swap, you're dinged five points of damage and your forfeit the turn. By banking a bunch of that mana, you can use a turn to expend the colored mana to cast spells that either directly affect your opponent or the playing area. It actually takes a while to properly process, but the game won't give two hoots about that as it repeatedly lays into you at every opportunity, rarely ever missing an opportunity to attack you by matching up at least three skulls.

Luckily, you can't ever really die, and the game saves every time you win a battle (which happens often), but there are few games that actually kick you when you're down like Puzzle Quest. I had battles where the enemy took something like six to eight turns, causing damage the entire time, then finished by matching the only remaining three-icon move which causes a mana drain, thus wiping out my mana reserves so I couldn't heal myself. It's that kind of abuse that will make you hate the game, but the lure of being able to pull off a series of attacks nearly as powerfully keeps you retrying.

That's not exactly cheating, though. It's having an almost insane ability to look ahead by about six moves, but there are instances where the computer will intentionally make a blind move that clears out the top row of jewels or money or what have you only to magically have three skulls drop in to attack. It's the kind of awareness of the board that you'll never have, and it can lead to huge rape sessions.

So yeah, the game beat you like a red-headed stepchild, but it does seem like every once in a while things will go your way. Chain together five moves and you'll be rewarded with 100 experience points (a "Heroic Effort"), and since you'll gain experience even if you lose, it all counts towards pushing up your level, where you can spend a handful of points to give you more mana per colored jewel matched, give you bonuses at the end of a battle, increase your chances of going first and just outright boosting your raw hit points or damage dealt. If you screw up in the beginning, fear not, because you can actually build something in any of the castles you've sieged and taken that will let you spend a ton of cash to level up. Nifty, eh?

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