Puzzle Quest: Challenge of The Warlords

Susie Ochs's picture

Puzzle Quest: Challenge of The Warlords

Our level 10 knight battles a level 11 troll to become Lord of the Swamp.


Practically everyone has played a board or two of Bejeweled, the match-three puzzle classic that sucks casual gamers in on Macs, PCs, consoles, iPods, and mobile phones. Puzzle Quest starts with the same gameplay, but adds strategy and RPG elements to keep things interesting.


The game begins with you creating a character and going through a brief tutorial. After that, the Queen of Etheria sends you out on quests to save the kingdom from the evil Lord Bane. As you move your character around the board, you encounter enemies that you must defeat through turn-based, head-to-head, match-three puzzles. You acquire “mana,” which are different-colored jewels that are stored beside the board and spent to cast spells that strengthen your character or weaken your opponent. Matching skull pieces causes direct hits against your enemy’s life force, and if his reaches zero before yours, you win. With the various combos, power-ups, spells, and special items available, Puzzle Quest can keep you engaged far longer than a basic, single-player, noncompetitive puzzle title.


The story unfolds in cut-scene conversations between your character, other creatures you recruit into your party, and the various people who send you on your quests. The dialogue is forgettable, but luckily you can click through these sections quickly and get back to the puzzles. As you gain experience, you level up, and you can spend gold earned in battles on better armor and special weapons, which are needed to win the boss battles. You can even spend gold to build up your own citadel, where you can take prisoners, forge new items from “runes” won in skirmishes, learn new spells, train mounts you can ride into battle, and more. The customization options and the strategy involved in determining which items and spells you equip yourself with result in a deep, addicting game that’s different every time. Load and save times are practically nil, but if you don’t want to get bogged down in a quest, Instant Action mode lets you jump right into head-to-head puzzles against the computer’s AI.


TransGaming ported Puzzle Quest from the PC with its Cider technology, which means that only Intel Macs can run it, but overall the system requirements are still on the light side. Unfortunately, it’s missing the multiplayer mode from the PC version, although it’s also $10 cheaper. The medieval-style music ranges from peaceful to regal but never gets too annoying (and can be silenced, of course), and the cut-scenes have a watercolor feel to them, like a fantasy storybook. It’s rated E10+ for “suggestive themes,” but we’d feel comfortable giving it to kids over 8.


The bottom lin: Puzzle Quest bridges the gap between pick-up-and-play casual games and deeper turn-based strategy and RPG titles. And it succeeds in both areas, pushing the “just one more game” factor to new levels.


COMPANY: TransGaming

CONTACT: www.transgaming.com

PRICE: $19.95

REQUIREMENTS: Intel Core Duo or faster processor, Mac OS 10.4.10 or later, 1GB RAM

Fun for five minutes or five hours. RPG elements add variety and strategy. Kid-friendly (rated E10+).

Intel Macs only. Multiplayer modes from the PC/console versions missing.





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I have this for the Nintendo DS. On the one hand, I have not yet played it in multiplayer. On the other hand, I would not buy it without multiplayer support, as once I actually have some skill at the game, I suspect multiplayer will be the main draw.

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