Developer: Developer Digital
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

With a dash of Puzzle Quest and a pinch of Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, Dungeon Hearts is a fast paced and quite tactical puzzle/RPG hybrid. What it lacks in depth, it makes up for with sheer quantity of battles.

There’s no storyline behind Dungeon Hearts, or the ability to change weapons or see any massive signs of progress, but the core mechanics are sufficient that it’s fun to play. The idea is that players must battle a series of monsters with their group of four heroes, surviving for as long as possible and, hopefully, coming across a boss battle or two.

Combat is a matter of matching colored runes quickly. It only takes three of the runes to form a special gem that can be unleashed to cause an attack, but there’s a lot more of a challenge here than that. For one thing, the runes move across the screen quite quickly. Skull runes also move across the screen, representing an enemy attack is imminent if it reaches the team of heroes. All the runes can be moved around but fast reactions are imperative. During the early battles, it’s fine to just create minor attacks but quickly. Later battles, however, require some chain attacks to be accrued. This is done by manipulating the various special gems so they reside next to each other, causing a number of attacks to be unleashed at once.

It’s quite a challenging way to play, even if the basic idea is immensely simple. The speed gradually ramps up the further one gets into the game, and more runes emerge too. Special runes also begin to play a role, such as ones that can’t be moved at all and enemy skulls that take a number of blows to defeat.

It’s fun to play through such battles, although a lack of structure from a story does weaken the appeal slightly. It’s possible to level up one’s characters through completing another gem matching game, after each battle, but it’s not quite the same as being able to equip new weaponry, such as in Puzzle Quest.

The foundations for a fun game are here, though, and the vibrant, colorful graphics work well on the iPad’s extra screen space. Dungeon Hearts might lack a little personality, but it’s still an entertaining twist on a tried and tested format.

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