Tobold's Blog
Monday, March 02, 2009
 
Sad sequel

I am a big fan of Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords. So much that I ended up buying it twice, once for PC, once for my PSP. So I was looking forward to the sequel, Puzzle Quest: Galactrix. But unfortunately that sequel turned out to be much less good than the original. :(

The main problem of the sequel is that the hexagonal puzzle that is at the base of all combat and other mini-games is a lot less fun than the regular one. It is much harder to plan series of moves, and that is not just because you have to think in which direction the stones fall, but also because the ways are shorter, and often the previously invisible stones that fall in from the border have a bigger influence than your planned move. Thus the puzzle becomes more luck-based, and that can get really annoying in some of the harder challenges. And as "hacking" the gates to get elsewhere is often one of those harder challenges, this gets annoying quickly.

While many elements of the sequel are similar to the original, Infinite Interactive did remove some fun elements. For example there are no character classes any more, which limits replayability. And while the original had tons of spells, items, and other various bonuses, these appear to be much rarer in the sequel.

So if you are interested anyway, I seriously recommend you first play the Puzzle Quest Galactrix demo before spending any money on this game. To me it appears as if the developers tried to quickly cash in on the success of their first game, instead of building a more lasting legacy. Sad, really.
Comments:
Actually, the classless design is a plus for me. I don't have to replay through the whole friggin' game as another class to see what it has to offer, especially when there are only two save slots for four classes.

The somewhat unpredictable nature of the hex puzzle is a bit offputting, though, and I'm a bit baffled why they went that direction. I can see thematic reasons for such a choice, but it doesn't seem to add much to the strategy aspect.
 
I second the recommendation to play the demo before spending money on it. Luck is way more of a factor. In the early game, I lost a couple battles before getting a move because the opponent's first move would get a lucky chain and do 60-80 damage. Items (abilities) are inconsequential compared to the 10's and 5's that fall in from the side, and you'll often find yourself redoing a gate hacking puzzle that you didn't half-finish, only to have 30 seconds left the second time around. It's gone from a reasonable strategy game to a casual puzzle with some graphics thrown in.

The graphics are a particular complaint I have, because it's frustrating in a timed puzzle to have to sit and watch for the last ten seconds as a chain of every colour you didn't need pours onto the screen while you can't interact, only to be told you lost.
 
I tried the demo a month ago and found it:
(a) Much harder (due to the luck factor limiting my ability to plan)
(b) Very frustrating (see above).

It's a shame, because both my wife and I loved the first installment, and played it into the ground on our DS's.
 
Puzzle Kingdoms is set for release in April for the Wii/PC/DS, and it sounds like it will be closer to what the original game was like in terms of puzzles. The whole 'build a kingdom' aspect could be really fun too.
 
I loved the changes they made to the game personally. The hex system and the 'no-gravity' choose which way the pieces fell made the game feel fresh again. I actually had to spend some time looking at the board and thinking about how things would play out. The original puzzle quest is almost automatic for me now.

Instead of making the exact same puzzle quest game only in space, they changed the mechanics to fit their new medium. Works for me.
 
I'm really happy with the hexagonal system, I just want to be able to predict the collapse. I read somewhere that the "gravity" is different in different systems. Has anyone seen that to confirm such an assertion?
 
The gravity is the direction you move your piece, it explains it at the very beginning of the game. If you click a piece and drag it up, all the pieces will fall up. If you click a piece and drag it left all the pieces will fall left. Etc.
 
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