App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S
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While not a new idea on it’s own, many still feel that the RPG Puzzler has a ton of room to grow. Mojaro, a studio founded by a small group of game industry veterans, would be a group that feels that way. Puzzle Knights is their take on the genre.
A simplified, automated RPG duel system with a rock-paper-scissors twist is interjected with a match-three style puzzle game used to build stamina before battles. Before each fight players make a battle plan, choosing which of three moves they will make each turn and in which order. Attacks do what's expected, blocks will block attacks, and counters will counter an attack for half damage. Each move takes stamina, and if all the player's stamina runs out attacks start dealing half damage, blocks become ineffective, and counters may not work. Doing better in the puzzle before each battle will increase the amount of stamina they can bright to the fight. Winning fights earns gold and experience. Gold is for buying better equipment and experience increases the avatar's level, raising the stamina cap. Do a puzzle, win a battle, collect earnings, and repeat.
That may sound dismissive, but Puzzle Knights really doesn't get any deeper than that. Depending on the avatar’s level, the points needed to max out stamina through the puzzles increases while the number of moves and time restrictions put a need on showing off casual puzzle skills to get the best results. It’s a circular grind and just the type of thing that most people look for in an iPhone game. Sadly, it may just be too shallow to really hold most people’s attention for more than a few sessions. Add in a 3-5 second load screen whenever the scene changes and players may find tehlselves running out of patience faster than they would like.
The limited moves and time restraints during the puzzle segments limit play styles and maxing out one's energy will end the puzzle automatically, making it hard to get a sense of strategic satisfaction. On the other hand, the RPG battles leave a lot to be desired to even for those looking for a very casual experience. Besides each avatar’s level, stamina, and health, no stats are shown in battle. The rock-paper-scissors elements also feel fairly pointless as having high level gear can just negate a block or counter anyway. One never feels in control in battle, making it rather uninspired and lacking in a sense of fulfillment.
Puzzle Knights isn’t a totally dismissible game, but many will feel a lack of feedback to really keep them engrossed. For anyone looking for a simple grind that satisfies the feeling of leveling a character while also matching colored gems in groups of three or more, Puzzle Knights may be worth checking out. Most, however, can safely pass without puzzling over the dilemma to download it or not.