Puzzle Quest: Galactrix

Alec is feeling a little under the weather today.

While, as evidenced, Jim was running around like a TF2 scout at GDC, he didn’t see everything. GameSpot UK managed to get some time seeing the new Puzzle Quest spin-off, Puzzle Quest: Galactrix. ENVY. We possess ENVY.

Putting aside the Euro-Sci-Fi graphics, the biggest change is that the game’s based around a hex-based board with a more unusual gravity. For example, in a deep space level with no gravity, the gems will fall in the direction they’ve been matched, rather than just straight on down. Which makes sense. As it’s in space, and there’s only momentum and stuff. Also, instead of a single character class, you can gain different ships, which act like proxy character classes, with individual bits and pieces. They haven’t mentioned anything about there being no cheating, but we suspect there won’t be any, as there never was. No, really.

There’s also footage for the game, which features Puzzle Quest designer Steve Fawkner talking about the game in an impressively fashionable leather jacket. At least for a game designer, anyway. That’s here.


  1. Ging says:

    I’m a bit concerned it might over complicate the play mechanics and pleasant RPG-lite feel of Puzzle Quest, but I still want to play it.

  2. Chris Evans says:

    Not too sure about moving to Sci-Fi, but I am willing to sit back and wait to see what is revealed over the coming months.

  3. nabeel says:

    Looks really nice, I’m up for a change of setting and style.

  4. ran93r says:

    Puzzle Quest rorked, looking forward to this.

  5. John P (Katsumoto) says:

    If they could make it so that the colour blind can play, i’m all over it! Options to pick colour schemes for the gems or something.

    I really wanted to get into Puzzle Quest, but I couldn’t distinguish the green and yellow ones AT ALL. Gutted.

  6. Fumarole says:

    I’ve been playing Puzzle Quest so much on my DS lately that my fingers are cramped from holding the stylus and multicolored rainfall fills my dreams at night. Seeing Galactrix fills me with equal amounts of excitement and dread.

  7. J. Prevost says:

    I just hope that the basic mechanics of the game are better. PQ was very neat and very fun, for the most part—but the combination of abilities that could cause you or your enemy to lose a turn with the chance that in-falling new pieces could lead to massive combos was very very painful.

    I always thought that if there had been mechanics in place to limit how much damage could be produced in a single round, that would have been better. (For example, if the damage doable in a single “turn” went up asymptotically towards 2x or 3x the damage done by the initial attack, that would be a lot better bounded.)

    As it was, I generally worked at avoiding letting the opponent do anything at all if possible, rather than just preventing certain moves that I knew would be problems. What’s the use blocking the AI from grabbing 5x green when on its next round it snags a 4x blue, having a 4x green, a 4x green, and a 4x red drop in from off the board after that, and then continuing to take extra turns until I’m dead from full life without getting another chance to move?

    In short, I love the concept, but I think the execution could use a hell of a lot more mechanical polish. Perhaps this game will have that polish.

  8. espy says:

    Hmm, selecting one of six neighbours instead of one of four (as in the original game) is easy with a mouse, easy with a stylus, but annoying with a 4-directional pad, because you’ll have to tap it twice instead of once, practically doubling the amount of inputs required by the player. Which leaves me wondering how the PSP version will play. Any ideas?

  9. Garth says:

    “What’s the use blocking the AI from grabbing 5x green when on its next round it snags a 4x blue, having a 4x green, a 4x green, and a 4x red drop in from off the board after that, and then continuing to take extra turns until I’m dead from full life without getting another chance to move?”
    This was exactly my problem.

    My record was 32 turns in a row for the AI. Thirty. Two. I couldn’t believe the bullshit that the computer ‘didn’t cheat.’ Give me a break; that thing would get combos so long I could put the game down, get a drink, come back, and it was still going.

  10. Ging says:

    Espy: Use the little analogue stick thing?

  11. KingMob says:

    It didn’t cheat. It just involved more randomness than many of us are willing to accept…

    Am I the only one who clicked on the link in hopes of seeing his leather jacket? I’m already committed to buy the game for DS whenever it comes out, coverage is unnecessary. But now that I’ve seen it I’m disappointed you failed to mention his awesome shirt.

  12. James T says:

    Oh, I didn’t realise they were… Local. Aussie Aussie Aussie!

    I’ve been enjoying PQ; nothing mind-blowing, but it’s kinda fun having a story fuelling the puzzling, even if it is just a hacky little elves-and-dwarves thing. I haven’t had the AI be especially egregious, as frustrating as the odd match can be. I think it’s a bit unfortunate that the monsters level up with you, though — random encounters last about as long as boss fights, which is pretty bloody tiresome when you just want to pop down south to pick up your extortion money (I like how you can besiege a city, lose, and then walk in and stroll around the shops anyway. “Don’t mind the siege, folks! You can’t blame me for having a shot, right?”)

    That’s some really neat art for ‘Galactrix’; I wonder if this is going to take a loftier, more Herbert-esque tack.

    “Great Shai-Hulud has written our destiny in the sands! Send forth our troops to the homeworld of Emperor Shaddam, and visit blood and thunder upon the Landsraad!”
    “Your grace, I cannot get the little skully blocks to match up!”
    “Then your life is forfeit! ZAP!

  13. Garth says:

    “It didn’t cheat. It just involved more randomness than many of us are willing to accept…”
    If it was random, why did I get one, count it, one combo that long randomly? Also, A.I. abilities tended to extend this crap even further.

    On the off-chance they DIDN’T get a stupid long combo, they would just prevent you from playing for four turns, then, woah, a long combo.

  14. Ging says:

    Garth: I admit that the AI was a bit cheaty at points, but either you got a really, really bad dose of it every time you played or you’re blowing your experiences out of all proportions! :p

  15. malkav11 says:

    You know how often I’ve lost a fight in Puzzle Quest? Not bloody often, I can tell you that. Especially not once I got my fourth or fifth spell. Does the CPU on average get more luck and more random, unpredictable chains than I do? It seems like it. Does it save their shiny metal hide? No indeed.

  16. Pidesco says:

    Awesome. I just hope they up the game’s challenge a bit. Puzzle Quest was too easy.

  17. Stromko says:

    I was about to chime in and say, “Oh, maybe it was just good at predicting patterns and picking out any possible 4x combos that you missed!”

    Then I booted up Puzzle Quest. First fight(a random encounter), my second turn. I match three red stones at the top. Que my opponent getting SIX TURNS, just on the weight of what was falling in to replace that 1-by-3 gap at the top of the screen.

    At the very least, the AI knows /exactly/ what is going to fall next. Very possibly, the game actually changes what falls next based on what the AI needs and what level of challenge it wants to provide. I really shouldn’t even use the term AI, AI suggests it is trying to trick you into believing you’re up agains a real opponent. I should instead say, the game is trying very hard to beat you.

    On the other hand, it’s not really that bad. As your character progresses you should unlock a variety of abilities that allow you to control the board through transmutation or destruction of the various pieces. (yet another edit as I reacclimate to the game) I really can’t blame them for maybe cheating a bit, as there’s no way to make an AI to rapidly use such broad, transformative abilities in the brilliant ways a human, given lots of time to weigh options, could.

    Is it still extremely luck-based, can you be utterly devastated by an opponent for reasons that are completely impossible to predict based on the information you have at hand? Yeah. But it’s still fun.

    You can actually turn the ‘cheating’ game against itself though. Wait for it to give you a suggested move to ‘help’ you. Then, DON’T DO THAT MOVE (*unless it gives you an extra turn). As Iain pointed out in the other thread, the tip function is designed to screw you. By not doing that move, you hamper the game’s ability to cheat.

    Something very vital I noticed in the Puzzle Quest: Galactrix video, and maybe I’m reading too much into this, but a couple of times it showed as a matching bonus, “Four of a Kind, Double Effect!”. It didn’t say, “Extra Turn”, it only said double effect. This would go a long, long way toward making the sequence of play less luck-based I would think.

  18. Arathain says:

    Having played the game quite a bit, and watched my wife play a good deal more (she does most of the puzzle bits ’cause she has a better eye for it, while I spot 4s and 5s she may have missed, and provide spell and equipment powergaming advice. It’s fun! She has this really sick Wizard build). I still don’t think the AI cheats. 32 turns is rough when the AI gets them, but some of the things I’ve seen her pull off… well, I bet the AI thinks she cheats.

    I do know the AI is pretty smart about speculating for possible drops that will set up 4s, but I’ve seen it screw those up plenty. Anyway, as has been already said, if the AI does cheat it’s because it needs to. Pick abilities and items that work well together and you won’t lose too many fights.

  19. Stromko says:

    I’ve spent the last few hours playing PuzzleQuest again for the first time in a long time, and it’s just made me more certain of this: That if the game does indeed cheat, it’s because it HAS to. The layer upon layer of complexity would require an AI that puts ‘Deep Blue’ to shame.

    The options you have when it comes to the abilities you bring into a fight will completely transform the game. Not only will your mileage vary based upon what class you choose, but also your mount, as the powers you acquire can absolutely change the rhythm and composition of play. My first character was a warrior. Hated it. My second was a wizard. LOVED IT. Who cares if the AI cheats, when I’m webbing it for 4 turns with my Spider mount, casting Flaming Skulls to transform blue runes to red and green runes to skulls, and slapping it down with 4’s and 5’s of a kind, knocking out 3×3 sections with fireballs to keep my combo going. I almost hope it does cheat, otherwise I’d feel a little bad for robbing my opponent of 10 – 15 turns. ;)

    Galactrix looks to have the potential to fix many of the niggling concerns I have about Puzzle Quest. For one thing, swappable ships mean you aren’t wasting the time you put into a class that doesn’t suit you, since it’s just a stepping stone to unlocking or powering upadditional ships that you might enjoy more.

  20. Arathain says:

    So, anyway, Galactrix, then. I’m awfully excited.

    In vague reference to Ging’s first comment, I’m not at all concerned about overcomplicating the game. The original is quite a complex game itself, built on a very simple Bejewelled mechanic to be sure, but once you add in the effects of skills, the tight ability selection, the items, the forging of items, mounts, learned abilities, the monsters themselves…

    Like a lot of great games, the central concepts are so easy to understand and work with that you can add complexity to it without ever moving it to where it too difficult to follow what’s going on. So bring on more stuff, I say.

  21. Jazmeister says:

    The Warrior class has a high level spell that becomes a one-shotter with the right spec. I hit on it accidentally and it ruined the final bosses for me. Now I roam the lands, one shotting the most horrendous creatures and spending the gold on stats.

  22. Sadarac says:

    The Game Has to “cheat” My wizard has EXTREMLY LOW STATS. he is Level 50 yet his highest skill is fire mastery at 31 points. Haveing said that, I will now tell you that nearly every single opponent i face in game is defeated by me in ten or less times when it moves then i move. My Items/Mount/Spells is the reason for this.
    Collar of poison: ands 7 to damage for each full mana reserve if doing 3+ damage and 20% chance of poison
    Mirror armor: does 1 point damage to oppnent when takeing 2 or more damage
    Dragonslayer of poison: Adds 7 to damage when doing 3+ damage and 20% chance of poison
    Dragonhorn Of Fire: Adds 8 to red mana at start of fight and gives 6 mana to all reserves after a 4 or 5 in a row.

    The armor doesn’t really matter (i change it up sometimes)
    With those other three items (all have to be forged) And Full Mana reserves I do +35 damage if i match three skulls.(skulls do 5 so total damage is 40) NEXT on to the spells.(only the most important ones)
    Flaming skulls: Blue into red,Green into skulls. this lends itself to 4 and 5 in a row’s. Because of my dragonhorn this spell when used properly ADDS MANA to water,earth, and air. Fire stays the same.
    Finger of death: makes a +5 skull on selected grid. When used in 4/5 in a row it only costs two mana from each type. (-8+6=-2)
    Flaming avatar: Reduces red to zero. puts same number of red spent into a random skill. just to beef my guy up if red is high and i have no good matchs to make.
    Chaos Bolt: -12 mana from each type. one type reduced to zero. mana reduced is equal to damage. This lets me finish off a guy who’s health is lower then all of my manas.
    Wild Magic: Make four random wildcards. if all manas +12 turn doesn’t end. Helps me make more four in a rows when mana is 24 or higher each type (spell costs 12 each. 12+12=24)
    Mount: Griffon
    increases air mastery and gives death dive spell. More MAna and more damage to foes.

    Haveing said All that i come back to the point that the game needs to cheat. I have One Round defeated a Arkliche RUNEKEEPER. If the game didn’t cheat It would mean i would NEVER lose a fight. When Most complan about the comps long chains, I laugh hystarically as i make 40+ chains, if the opponennt lives that long :)

    If the new puzzle quest gets rid of the extra turns it will make it a lot harder to beat people.