Puzzle Kingdoms

I heard good things about Puzzle Quest, so I picked up Puzzle Kingdoms on Steam during their summer blowout. It was not worth the $1, and I wish I had spent the time playing some random flash game.

Unless things change dramatically later on, it is just the one mini-game with some minor variations, like Bejeweled with some add-ons. You can go play Bejeweled right now. You and the computer are playing against each other on the same board with alternating turns, so it is a matter of playing denial while hoping something interesting falls into place. Of course, it falls into place in time for your opponent’s turn, so there is waiting and luck. The computer is tactically infallible but strategically hopeless, so it is a matter of getting an unsatisfying victory over an inept opponent, watching that opponent exploit something you cannot see (but it sees every possible combination), or hardly seeing what happens as it gets four or five combinations somehow falling from off-screen. The computer’s prescience is unlikely to be enough to save it, although it is a wonder to see it get two kills in one turn from blocks that were not on-screen when it started.

The gameplay is passable, although I found Warriors End a better version of the same thing. If you want that kind of thing, you get nothing else, so go to. The story is just bad: our hero is apparently conquering peaceful countries for their own good, but it’s okay because the dark lord is making them unhappy with magic boxes. You must destroy the magic box, even if that involves killing a path through a country that does not want your help. Nation-building through Bejeweled-based regime change.

There are also “RPG elements,” for when you feel like grinding a bit. Because sometimes mindlessly playing the same little thing and getting imaginary rewards is relaxing. It’s what we do here.

: Zubon

Oh, and Torchlight is $5 on Steam right now, in case you missed it during the last holiday sales.

10 thoughts on “Puzzle Kingdoms”

  1. Really? I’m enjoying the game. I don’t think it’s quite as well-balanced as Puzzle Quest (not that it didn’t have it’s glaring flaws as well), but it’s enough to pass the time. I like the dungeon puzzles, where you have to clear the board within a certain number of moves. (You can play the minigames from the front menu.) It’s a neat puzzle loosely based on the mechanics, kind of like the monster capturing puzzles in Puzzle Quest, although these don’t have a set solution.

    The whole “computer jumps ahead because the falling blocks go in its favor” thing is annoying, but I had the same complaint with Puzzle Quest, too. I might be seeing patterns where there are none, but it seems that there is a method to the madness there.

    Anyway, I don’t think it’s quite as bad as you’re making it out. A game to stand the test of time? No. Worth $1 and some hours of your life? Probably.

  2. Because sometimes mindlessly playing the same little thing and getting imaginary rewards is relaxing. It’s what we do here.

    You bet. That sums up pretty much every MMO. =)

    1. That joke would work much better if Puzzle Quest and Puzzle Kingdoms were not made by the same company. So your joke here would use Starcraft and Warcraft, or Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 … which does not work at all.

  3. “tactically infallible but strategically hopeless”

    I love that line Zubon. It pretty much sums up the current state of AI in gaming. It leads to games that are frustratingly difficult at first but become laughably easy once you figure out a strategy.

  4. I enjoyed Puzzle Quest 10x more than Puzzle Kingdoms, if for no other reason than PK was faceroll easy. Add in a weaker plot, arguably downgrades in terms of the core game, and a more ‘grind’ feel to the whole thing, and yea, not a good sequel.

    1. Not a good sequel, but worth playing on its own.

      …that said, it really is baffling why the same devs went in (to me, anyway) obviously wrong directions from their success in PQ.

      It’s interesting seeing a game studio’s DNA mutate.

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