App Reviewed on: iPhone SE
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Match-threes are a dime a dozen on iOS, but not all of them have the benefit of being playable completely offline while still being free-to-play. Match Land just so happens to be a game with both of these features, but it unfortunately ends up feeling like a bit of a slog because of its endless upgrade systems.
A puzzling adventure
Match Land's take on match-three is one that's fairly common. In it, you control a team of four adventurers and match blocks to have them attack enemies that appear on screen. The slight twist on this formula is that the game actually takes timing into account. When you make your first match, a timer starts counting down and resets if you're able to make another match before it reaches zero.
Once time is up, attacks between your heroes and enemies are exchanged, and the process starts all over again. This repeats until you've defeated the requisite amount of enemy waves or until you take too many hits and your HP reaches zero.
Upgrade and upsell
Whenever you complete a level of Match Land, you receive a bunch of items, which you then end up needing to reinvest into your heroes to make sure they are strong enough for their next fight. Many of these items are supplies for stores, like mushrooms, snakes, etc. Once you've collected a certain amount of these supplies, you can open these stores for business and earn money based on the items sold.
This money can then be used to upgrade heroes, provided you've collected enough hero tiles to level them up. Tiles are earned by completing missions and through daily rewards and chests that can be unlocked by keys that you also earn. It's an intricate web of upgrades that honestly makes Match Land feel a lot more cluttered than it probably should be.
The overly complicated upgrades aren't the only problem with Match Land. The game also suffers from its tile randomization, which can sometimes cause you to lose missions.
This would be less of a problem if Match Land wasn't overloaded with free-to-play mechanics, including an energy system that limits how much of the game you can play. You can, of course, circumvent these restrictions by purchasing gems, but these are temporary fixes to permanent problem. Match Land is aggressively monetized, and there's no good way around it.
The bottom line
It is convenient that you can play Match Land without a data connection, but that's pretty much the only edge it has over other match-three games. Its byzantine upgrade structure and loads of free-to-play mechanics make it hard to enjoy, and–even if those weren't present–the core matching mechanics seem a little too random to be satisfying.