Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tech: Puzzle Quest - Galactrix

Developer Infinite Interactive's "Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords" turned a lot of heads when it was first released in 2007. The game combined the casual gem-matching gameplay of "Bejeweled" with fantasy RPG elements cribbed from the "Warlords" series that Infinite Interactive was best known for. Now the sequel, "Puzzle Quest: Galactrix" is upon us:

As before, you slide multicolored gems on a playfield; match 3 or more in a row to eliminate them and potentially damage your enemy. The main change in "Galactrix" is the circular gameboard, which features hexagonal tiles that can slide in any of six directions. The direction you slide the tile in determines the direction the reminaing tiles fall - a wrinkle that makes the game very tense and strategic if you don't want to set your opponent up for huge damage-dealing combos.

There are other, more subtle changes for diehard PQ fans. It now takes 5 gems in a row to trigger an extra turn bonus, and the dreaded "mana drain" (no matches on the board) has been eliminated. Both tweaks help to cut down on the influence of chance that was such a criticism of the first game. Character classes are gone, replaced by a more open-ended equipment system that allows you to use almost any combination of powers that you can think of. The powers themselves are very similar to what you've already seen in the first PQ, however.

The new sci-fi setting is almost entirely a success. When two ships engage each other in gem-matching warfare, the presentation of the game (especially the melodramatic score) gives the impression of two great battleships trading hits with massive weaponry. It purposefully evokes "Star Wars," "Star Trek," and other sci-fi properties. Other parts of the singleplayer game (the somewhat tedious hacking minigame) are less fun.

Overall, "Galactrix" is an evolution rather than a revolution. It's currently available on the Xbox Live Arcade for 1600 points ($20), and I think it's well worth the cash if you enjoyed the first game.

Rating: 82/100


At 9:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


...it's a model of an AK 47 made out of bacon. Somehow, I feel I must pass this along.


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