With the original Puzzle Quest, developer Infinite Interactive showed that a genre as deep as RPGs could be married with one as seemingly shallow as match-3 puzzle games creating a match (3) made in heaven. With their point now proven, thanks to the continued success of that series, their new game, Gems of War, feels like another victory lap. We slay dark messiahs of might and matching yet again in this edition of It Came From Canada!
In the world of Krystara, all players need to start battling against hordes of monsters is a map to explore and some directions from their stern adviser. Gems of War’s centrepiece is, without a doubt, its numerous puzzle-driven enemy encounters. Players and their opponents share the same grid of gems and take turns matching with different gems causing different effects. Matching skull gems launches a basic attack while matching four of any gem gives another turn. And combo chains provide extra magical energy. From there though, benefits will vary. Most gems represent different elements like fire and water. Matching those gems charges up the special attacks of whatever team members specializes in those elements. Players might activate a solar-powered axe attack or defense-buffing howl driven by green energy.
Managing parties to better adapt to the random nature of the puzzle board is a key component of Gems of War’s non-combat gameplay. Aside from messing around with the look of their main character, players can tweak their elemental affinity as well as equip them with new weapons built to use new elements. Players can also recruit monsters from victorious battles and create a four-person squad. Elemental diversity opens up strategic opportunities along with the ability to limit enemy options. A fair but steep difficulty curve, especially for those who choose to tackle the bonus challenges, will encourage players to constantly customize their party until it is as strong as it can be.
Right now, the biggest barrier between players and the puzzle action is Gems of War’s curiously long and frequent load times. Hopefully that’s something they can fix before the official release. In any case, expect the game to fully launch everywhere soon.