Puzzle Quest is returning after a ten year absence. Puzzle Quest 3 will again combine match-3 and RPG mechanics together with the original designer Steve Fawkner at the helm, but this time it'll be - possible uh-oh - free-to-play.
Not much to go on based on that trailer, or in the press release, which vaguely promises "a twist on traditional puzzle gameplay" and "an intense 1-versus-1 battle system realized in a 3D game world."
Match-3 gets a bad rap, but there's little more satisfying in games than matching a bunch of gems of the same colour. In Puzzle Quest, different kinds of matches gave your hero different resources which they could then spend on attacks against various fantasy monsters. There was a quickly identified pattern to your pattern-matching, but it was more-ish in the extreme.
I'd be unequivocally thrilled by the announcement of Puzzle Quest 3, were it not free-to-play. There are plenty of great examples of F2P games in this day and age, but I've not seen a model for match-3 games that didn't harm the experience of play. I play match-3 games to relax, but it's hard to relax when there's limited lives or a diminishing energy resource that will either end my play session or ask me to cough up coins to continue.
John wrote a Puzzle Quest 2 review for us back in 2010, finding himself compelled to keep playing despite finding it repetitive.
It’s ridiculous that after playing it for days, just repeating those same actions again and again, that I know as soon as I’m done writing this I’ll go back and play some more. I’m quite certain what it offers can’t justify the interest I have in playing it. But I shall not stop. I don’t want to stop. I want to repeat that action. And repeat that action. And repeat that action. And I’m almost disinterested in whether the context changes.
Puzzle Quest 2 doesn't seem to be available to buy anywhere on PC, having been removed from Steam by its publisher, but the original Puzzle Quest is still available. Puzzle Quest 3 has an official site where you can sign up for updates.