Role Puzzling Game: Puzzle Chronicles Demo

By John Walker on February 19th, 2010 at 12:18 pm.

I love romantic scenes.

Remember when puzzle games were nice, sedate affairs? A gentle afternoon in the company of some disappearing gems, or carefully placed tiles? How it’s all changed since Puzzle Quest, eh? Now puzzle games are about COMBAT! As is the case with Konami’s imaginatively named Puzzle Chronicles. It’s by Infinite Interactive, they who brought us Puzzle Quest and Galactrix, which is immediately obvious when you start playing the demo: lots of effort has gone into it. It’s what makes their games stand out from the vast numbers of lazy copycats. However, I’m not completely convinced this one is going to engage quite as much.

The puzzle element is a gem-matching deal. Groups of three fall, and you block together those of the same colour, then destroy them by dropping the appropriately coloured destroying gem. Then of course there’s fifty squillion other types of bonus drop to implement, including the requisite skull gems that allow you to do damage to your AI opponent. Here your attacks mean you reduce your enemy’s play area as you increase your own.

This is how war will look in the future.

The problem is, it’s feels like a clumsy interface. First of all the blocks fall sideways, which is confusing enough. Then you can grab them with the mouse and move them around, or turn them. But unlike most blocks-of-three puzzlers, you can’t rotate the order of the gems, and it desperately feels like you should be able to. Moving them feels oddly clunky, and the delay before the next piece appears is infuriating. There’s none of the fabulous match-3 action pace of Puzzle Quest.

The story around it is cute. You’re a barbarian, quickly accompanied by a warbeast cat-dog thing. They give you bonus attacks as well, of course. Then there’s weapons, skills, and so on that quickly elaborate. It’s once again truly an RPG puzzler, in the way the copycats can’t manage. The animated sequences are fun, with some decent voice acting, and there’s villages to explore, quests to solve, all of course in the form of playing the puzzle game.

Perhaps I’ll be more convinced as I play more, get more used to the nature of the puzzle. But I’m pretty certain it won’t match Puzzle Quest’s fluid Zoo Keeper/Bejeweled majesty.

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20 Comments »

  1. malkav11 says:

    None of their followups have captured that magic, as far as I can tell.

  2. Chris D says:

    While it does feel a little clunky this one grew on me pretty quickly. I think it could turn out to have genuinely deep gameplay with the whole back-and -forth rhythm and stealing each others gems being nicely tense.

  3. jsutcliffe says:

    The only decent combat-puzzler since Puzzle Quest has been Clash of Heroes for the DS, which is extremely awesome and anyone here with a DS should get it.

    • cheeba says:

      @jsutcliffe:

      1. Cheers for the recommendation, I’d forgotten to check that out for some reason.

      and 2. You bastard, so much for getting anything done this weekend.

    • Alex says:

      Ditto thanks for the reminder. Even Galactrix fell flat for me. Not sure why. I bought the DS for puzzle quest.

    • nhex says:

      Seconded – Clash of Heroes is excellent, definitely recommended.

    • Oddtwang says:

      Galactrix failed for me because the equipment and stuff didn’t ever seem to come together in the same kinds of combos as the spells (and mounts) did in PQ; it never gave me the chance to feel like I’d hit upon a neat effect rather than just steadily getting better damage.

    • Premium User Badge Arathain says:

      Ah, Galactrix…

      The basic game mechanic was sound and interesting, but everything that surrounded it managed to disappoint. Tedious obligatory minigames, grinding puzzles over and over again to make items, charmless plot, and it goes on.

      I think the biggest letdown for me was that the subtle, engaging task of equipping your character with just the right gear in PQ to compliment your spell selection was simplified here- ships had no personality or special abilities, they were just sacks of hitpoints with ability slots.

      It wasn’t a bad game. The PQ mechanics still made for a fun experience. But it was a sad thing after the majesty of the original.

  4. Premium User Badge Schaulustiger says:

    I think I’ll give this a try, though I don’t have high hopes.

    Puzzle Quest must be one of the games I played most during the last years and it certainly is the game I played on most platforms (Java Mobile, PSP, PC). Addictive stuff, unfortunately neither the copycats nor Galactrix were able to grab me the way PQ did.

  5. Crush says:

    Why on earth they didn’t follow up with more Puzzle Quest after its success is a mystery to me, there was a small expansion pack version but instead they went with that awful space/galatrix version then the clones from other companies.

    I’ll download and see if this has any of the magic left.

  6. Tei says:

    Puzzle Quest altered my perception of the universe, but I need a special state to play it. And I don’t really like the timed stuff. Timed+puzzle = evil.

  7. jsutcliffe says:

    @cheeba
    Clash of Heroes really sneaks up on you. At first you think it’s far too simple, and can’t see the appeal lasting. Then you look up and it’s dark outside.

  8. Premium User Badge Lambchops says:

    Side note to this:

    The original Puzzle Quest is only £3 on Steam at the moment – if you want to see what all the fuss is about then go buy now. Not reccommended if you want to do something useful with your life over the next few days!

  9. jsutcliffe says:

    Lambchops said: Not reccommended if you want to do something useful with your life over the next few days!

    Where do you come from that killing skeletons and saving a kingdom isn’t useful?

  10. Premium User Badge Lambchops says:

    A land which just doesn’t understand the true respect a deserve and fails to reward me with a cry of HEROIC EFFORT!

  11. JuJuCam says:

    I’ve given this a whirl on its DS incarnation and it’s kind of a strange and uneven beast… Grinding your levels up has a noticeable impact on your performance in the puzzles moreso than learning the mechanics of the puzzling. If you have a sufficiently juiced build you can trounce anything the enemy throws at you without much trouble. On the other hand the puzzling mechanic is rather unintuitive – you can clear dozens of normal blocks without much impact and yet score hits without clearing any blocks off the puzzle board.

    Although I did feel it captured the ebb and flow of single combat quite nicely. When the match is relatively even it is possible to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and it’s always a good feeling. My only gripe is that I’m so focussed on my half of the board that I don’t notice what the enemy is doing. So sometimes there are surprises – I take big hits out of seemingly nowhere or sometimes I’ll be victorious through AI incompetence rather than my own strategy.

    Overall I don’t think it’s a serious contender for best puzzle-RPG hybrid. They simply can’t do better than the purity of basic match-3 puzzling. But it’s a fun diversion.

  12. Tony M says:

    The hero looks like an exotic barbarian, but then when he talks hes all “Whoa dude, this broadsword totally kicks ass”.

  13. Cam says:

    Wow – Can I just say wow.. Thank you so much for taking your own screenshots of the game!! Everytime I see the old ones I shudder.. Every review I’ve seen of this game, has been using old screenshots from back during the ‘its still a demo’ stages with a canned review of the story like something straight out of the Konami marketing blurb page (including the mispelling on the Konami page of Ashurin being Asharin)..

    This is why I respect RPS above pretty much every other gaming site that I have occassion to read.. Keep up the good work guys.

  14. KilgoreTrout XL says:

    I gave it a whirl and came away happy. I definitely like the move to the Dr. Mario-style gameplay.

  15. Moorkh says:

    Please just give us another Warlords game instead… :(