Matching and Casting and Slashing
Puzzle Quest 3 focuses on 1-on-1 battles that pit your hero against groups of enemies in match-3 based combat. You can move gems in any direction, which offers a larger variety of matching opportunities and combos. Each class starts with different spells that you can use during battles, each one activates additional bonuses, depending on the types of gems you are matching.
In order to cast a spell, you need to fill the meter related to that spell by matching gems. You get even more power by large matches and combinations, with four or more gems creating a condensed, numbered gem on the board. You can then utilise that numbered gem for even more power on your next combination. Dealing physical damage is as easy as matching skulls on the board. They can also be combined, just like gems, and will increase the amount of damage done by the amount that you match. These attacks provide additional damage to the already specialised spells and can take down some foes in one hit with well-coordinated matches.
Building a Better Hero
Your hero begins their quest as a weakling before working their way up to be a decent adversary, and adding to their equipment is a great part of that. Sure, you’ll level up and increase your stats, but if you really want to keep your hero on their feet, you need to focus on upgrading your equipment, which includes armor, your weapon, and magical artifacts that you wear.
Through play, you’ll uncover chests filled with gold and XP, but you’ll also come across some other obscure currencies, weapon and armor shards, which will allow you to upgrade your equipment. Additionally, you can salvage multiples or unwanted equipment to provide your hero with gold and shards, to use for the improvement of your current gear.
It’s fun to get random loot in the game and see how it works with your current loadout, but most are just similar equipment with stat boosts or effects in a particular color affinity. Either way, the equipment that you get from chests adds in that element of surprise that I loved so much from the Diablo series, and it’s a welcome addition here.
Beauty and the Beasts
If there’s one thing that stands out from everything else added or tweaked in Puzzle Quest 3, it’s most certainly the graphics. The whole game has a visual sheen to it that exudes style and beauty, and it is seen in any facet, from the UI to the battles themselves.
Battles take place in 3D environments, with accent effects such as particles and animated accents. Your foes sway in anticipation for their next attack, and are fluid and colorful, bringing to life their evil accoutrements and demeanour. Your hero is expertly ornate, and just downright cool-looking, regardless of the class you picked to begin your adventure with. Everything pops with lavish effects and comic-style detail, and the art department certainly deserves some accolades for that.
Thirsty for More
I am in love with what the Puzzle Quest series has become. It’s been over a decade since the first release, and even though there have been some stumbles in direction of how to evolve the formula, Puzzle Quest 3 manages to embrace the free-to-play stylings while remaining engaging and fun to play, regardless of your willingness to shell out money for in-app purchases. There’s plenty to play here and each battle is a fun experience, as they seem to have mastered the joy of matching gems and slaying foes.
Puzzle Quest 3 releases in Early Access today on the Google Play Store. iOS and PC versions will be following shortly thereafter.