App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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It’s a tale as old as video games. Older, actually. A lone adventurer sets out to rid the world of evil, fighting their way through hordes of nasty critters in the process. What differentiates one given plot structure from another is the way all the in-between stuff is handled; friends they might make along the way, hardships they might endure, techniques they employ to ensure success. In Puzzle Dungeons’ case, it’s all about matching symbols in groups of three or more.
Each of the three stages in Puzzle Dungeons has its own theme and character level requirements. Players will have to select an adventurer (Paladin, Wizard, Alchemist) and use each of their unique abilities as best they can in order to survive. As various shapes are matched up – some to allow more attacks, others to put more time on the clock, and so on – enemies will appear. These ugly baddies cannot be shuffled around and will constantly attack in preset intervals, so dispatching them with normal attacks or special MP-using skills should be a top priority. And, of course, the longer the player lasts, the tougher things get.
Fortunately each character maintains a consistent level, so any experience earned remains from session to session. It makes inevitable failure easier to handle knowing that everything but acquired special items (damage boosts, etc) stick around. The way enemies are handled also makes things more entertaining and less frustrating as each one can be taken out in a reasonable amount of time. Sometimes several at once with a little planning and strategic use of skills. There’s a constant sense of progression, as well as a noticeable difference in character strength as they gain more and more levels.
It’s unfortunate then that the controls can be a little unresponsive at times. They’re certainly functional, but tiles can’t be moved (or even selected) until everything’s done disappearing and shuffling back into place. While I understand why there’s no option to move pieces around while the rest of the board is still cascading, being unable to even select a piece in preparation can slow things down. Which can also lead to a few instances of missed selections and reattempts that result in precious time being lost.
Puzzle Dungeons manages to balance fun, challenge, and progress quite successfully. Each of the three playable characters offers up a unique set of abilities (and by extension, strategies), and there’s never any real punishment for failure. It’s yet another match 3 RPG that can easily devour time if given the chance.