Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords

John Fox - Staff Reviewer

Content at a glance:

GAME TECH INFO

Computer Platform: Xbox 360 (Microsoft)
Produced by: Infinite Interactive
Price Range: $11-20
Learning curve time: 31-60 min.
Age level: Teens
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10 & up)

     Reviewed By: John Fox
     VOLUNTEER GUEST REVIEWER

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆
Genre: Other Puzzle/RPG
Christian Rating: 4 of 5 (good)
Gameplay: 5 of 5 (excellent)
Violence: 5 of 5 (none)
Adult Content: 3 of 5 (mild)


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Note: This is a review of the Xbox 360 Arcade version. Puzzle Quest is also available for the DS, PSP, PC, Mac, Wii, PS2 and some Mobile Phones. These versions may include differences such as interface changes, class balancing, online play and the availability of the upcoming expansion.

Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords by Infinite Interactive puts the puzzle game bejeweled in the Warlords universe and successfully mixes in RPG elements to create a unique and deep Puzzle/RPG hybrid gameplay.

The base of the game is a fantasy version of bejeweled. In Puzzle Quest you match up 3-5 gems of the same color horizontally or vertically. When you match up these gems you they are added to your mana reserves. You use various colored mana to cast spells which can alter the playing field and do damage to your enemies. That’s right, each puzzle game you play is against an opponent. The goal is to bring the opponents life points to zero. This can be done various ways such as matching skulls or casting spells. Your opponent also has various spells ands tricks up their sleeve, each unique to every creature you fight.

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But how do you obtain these abilities? This is where the RPG elements come in. At the beginning of the game you pick from one of the four classes. Each class is different, the warrior relies on manipulating and using skulls, the knight is a defensive class that relies on skulls to deal damage, wizards deal damage using their spells and druids have a wide variety of utility spells from dealing damage to healing themselves. By fighting monsters, completing quests and matching purple stars, your character will gain levels during the course of the game which gives them more life points, new spells and increased status using skill points. The game is set out in a world map with different waypoints, cities and destinations that your character will travel too. In cities you can buy equipment at the shop, purchase the latest news or rumors at the tavern and take on various quests. Gold is gotten from quest and by matching 3 or more gold coins when fighting enemies. During the game you can capture monsters to learn their abilities, train mounts, gather party members, lay siege to cities and create your own items. Each of these tasks is accompanied with their own unique puzzle mini game.

The graphics are simple but well drawn and are in anime-ish style. There are no animations, expect your character on the world map and the various unimpressive spell effects. The sounds effects are just OK and the music is good, but repetitive thanks to the limited amount of tracks. The story is laid out using text-bubbles with sparse voice overs in between major sections in the game. You, the young hero has to set out to find out why the recent undead activity has been on the rise. Of course things are not as simple as they seem, but the plot is more or less paper thin and the writing is various amateurish. I do give them props however for having the first bearded female dwarf that I know of in a video game.

Violence:
None is ever shown, however it is obvious that you either kill or incapacitate the enemies you fight. Sometimes it is mentions that people are being attacked by undead. Also, one of the main villains has a soul rending torture device that turns people into undead, though you never see it used. One of the monsters you fight is a tentacle abomination which is suppose to be made of spare undead parts, however you cannot tell this from its looks. Some of the places you visit have a picture of skulls on pikes.

Language:
None, I did not run into a single swear word during the game.

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Adult Content:
Two of the monsters, the harpy and the medusa are topless females with strategic positioned pieces of feather or scales. Their portraits are little more detailed in HD than in SD. I only encountered them once or twice each in my playthrough, though they do appear during random encounters on the world map. Some of the female main character avatars could also use more clothes. Finally, one of the optional party members, a psychotic thief named patch says something that could be taken the wrong way when he used his sneak attack damage ability: “Say hello to my little friend…”

Spiritual Content:
Puzzle quest takes place in a fantasy world, and thus your character has spells which they use to do damage or alter the playing field. Sometimes during the game it is said that some people will use magic, such one time the elves use a scrying spell to spy on the enemy army. The undead are one of the main monsters you fight and thus there are various necromancers in the game, one of them has a torture device in which he uses to rend slaves’ souls and turn them into undead. None of these things are ever shown however. The game also mentions various gods, and during the main quest your character has to become a priest in training of the minotaur religion and help the minotaurs put together various pieces of the minotaur’s god mortal form. Besides seeing it during a voiced cutscene and helping the character offscreen during the end of the game it did not have much part in the story. Finally, it is possible to get a party member that is the spirit of one of your dead companions.

Other:
During the main quest the player is forced to steal from the good elves to gain a piece of the minotaur god. Also, taverns are used to purchase various bits of info, but there is never any drinking shown.

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Puzzle Quest is a great bargain at 1200 points ($15) and should give the player at least 20-30 hours of playing time. Dozens of more hours can be found for those who want to gather all the monster spells, max out their character’s levels and by playing online (with a gold membership). Those wanting more Puzzle Questing should check out the expansion “Lord Plague’s Revenge” coming spring 2008 and Puzzle Quest Galactrix heading to the DS, PC and 360 fall 2008

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Year of Release — 2007

[tags] 4 stars, Other, Puzzle, Xbox 360 (Microsoft), E10+, Infinite Interactive [/tags]




Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.

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