Developer: HuaXu
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

I’m pretty sure if I kept track of how much time I spend with each gaming genre, it’d be a pretty even split between the Match Three genre and the RPG. I love each equally and for fairly different reasons: Match Three games are ideal to drop into for short bursts while RPGs can hook and enthrall me for hours on end if I let them. Amalgamations of these two genres instantly excite me. Enter Crystal Soul: a game that could do with more explanation but certainly has some great ideas.

The concept looks immediately like a Match Three title rather than an RPG. Sure you choose a class with the choice of Swordsman, Mage or Ranger but it’s not immediately obvious how this helps. Instead you’ll wonder why you can’t match up gems. It’s because you’re doing it wrong. You have to move your character around the hexagonal grid instead. You’re given a series of objectives such as defeat a set number of green monsters by absorbing them. If more than one of these monsters are grouped together, you defeat them all at once, as would be expected from a Match Three game. You can also collect up a load of different coloured power crystals and build up special attacks as well as regenerate your health and the amount of moves you have left to complete.

There’s 20 levels in all each with their own set of objectives. Things get tougher too even after you figure things out. That’s the main problem with Crystal Soul, it’s really not immediately obvious how to do a lot of things. Without a tutorial of any kind, you’re thrown in at the deep end so it takes a while to figure out what’s going on. Each character has their own set of special moves which come in handy but it takes a while for everything to gel together and make sense. Even a question mark hidden away at the bottom of the screen which explains the special moves still feels a little limiting compared to a full tutorial stage.

Keep at it though and you’ll understand the nuances behind Crystal Soul after a time, realising that it offers a fair amount of depth for the price. It might be a little rough and ready but at its low price, it’s still worth a shot. It’s certainly something rather different from the usual Match Three mechanics.

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