Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4
Graphics / Sound Rating:
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I'd not heard of GemCraft until the iPhone version dropped into my metaphorical lap. It turns out however that GemCraft is a rather popular Flash game attracting over 90 million plays. I can see why too. While the iPhone version might be in need of a dash more personality, it's still quite a solid title.
Despite the name suggesting match three puzzle fun, GemCraft is a Tower Defense game. The basic elements are introduced in a tutorial level at the beginning. You place towers and traps in order to destroy the waves of foes steadily coming your way. The unique factor comes in the form of gems. While you can place as many towers and traps as you can afford (you gain points that can then be used to purchase such items), they won't do anything without gems implanted on them. The gem combinations themselves are pretty clever. Gems can be combined thus affecting things such as range, power and numerous special abilities too. It all makes for a nice strategic element to proceedings, especially once you consider the skill system also available.
Indeed, the strategy is what makes things so interesting. While GemCraft's appearance is quite plain and basic, the strategy hidden under this is what will keep you going. There's certanly enough content to make the $2 asking price worth it with over 30 levels and also different modes gradually unlocking through an experience/levelling up system. These modes comprise of things such as Survival and Sudden Death (you can't let any monster reach your base) amongst others. It easily adds to the longevity of the experience.
GemCraft isn't the prettiest of games, nor one with an involving storyline, but it does have a lot of depth. The combination of gems, structure building and unlockable skills makes for a potent mix. GemCraft sticks with substance over style which will work for some (particularly fans of the Flash game who are bound to be happy here) but others might feel more at home with the likes of Plants vs. Zombies or GeoDefense. It just lacks a bit of personality and true originality to make it worth recommending over all others.