It's been 12 years since its initial release but Infinite Interactive's match 3 RPG Puzzle Quest is back and oh boy, is it an absolute blast.
I remember picking up a copy of Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords for PSP shortly after purchasing the console and was blown away by how much fun it was. I used to play it in bed before falling asleep and sometimes, I'd end up staying up way too late. For the unfamiliar, Puzzle Quest is played just like PopCap's classic puzzler Bejeweled except matching the different tile types results in either earning magic points, gold, and experience or attacking your opponent. Slowly watching your enemy's HP drain while nervously ensuring that they can't attack you is a satisfying dynamic that'll keep you hooked and nothing's more rewarding than matching 4 or 5 tiles which allows you to take another turn only for you to unleash a fury of attacks and magic spells that turn the tide of battle. It may be a dozen years old but Puzzle Quest is still great fun and it fits beautifully on Switch as you can play it on the go and in your living room.
The campaign in Puzzle Quest takes place on a node-based world map where you visit castles and towns while accepting loads of story-driven and optional quests, collecting rumours, obtaining new equipment, and managing your home castle. The latter involves building parts of your citadel in order to provide boosts such as the ability to capture and train enemies and learn spells from them, craft items, and take over cities. Enemies will even block your path on the map which acts as Puzzle Quest's random encounters. As you can see, there's a lot to do aside from battling enemies and all of it blends together seamlessly into one rewarding adventure.
Puzzle Quest: The Legend Returns contains the previously released expansion Revenge of the Plague Lord as well as a brand new expansion in the form of Attack of the Golem Lord. Considering it takes about 40 hours to beat the main campaign, the fact that there are 2 substantial expansions on top of that is just awesome. You can also enjoy online multiplayer matches although seeing as this hasn't released as of writing this, I haven't been able to find a match to try it out yet. Finally, you can challenge a ton of AI-controlled opponents whenever you wish from the main menu so if you just want to train then you can have at it.
Although Puzzle Quest: The Legend Returns sounds pretty incredible, I must stress that it hasn't changed much from the original release. As I played it, everything was very familiar to me as I played the heck out of the original and I was rather disappointed how it simply doesn't feel fresh and exciting. This is especially true when it comes to its visuals which look decent but much of the artwork and other assets appear a bit blurry as if they weren't scaled very well for Switch. The music and sound effects remain unchanged as well and even the laser lightning effects whenever damage is dealt are as goofy as ever.
Finally, one issue that I had with the original Puzzle Quest as well as The Legend Returns is the fact that success is often very random. For example, you may start a battle where your opponent has the first move and they might get a huge string of matching 4 tiles in a row thus charging their magic a ton and depleting your life bar by half right off the bat. Instead, I wish there was a mechanic in place that made this happen less often as it can be incredibly frustrating to know that you're going to lose a battle before you even get to do anything. I guess this comes with the territory of having a match 3 puzzle combat system but it's still annoying.
Even with all of the huge AAA games flooding the shelves, Puzzle Quest: The Legend Returns manages to provide an addictive formula that'll easily hold your attention for longer than most big budget titles and it's a heck of a lot of fun, too.
- + Perfectly combines match 3 puzzle gameplay, combat, and RPG elements
- + Loads of content to master
- + New expansion and online multiplayer
- - The core game remains the same as the original 2007 release
- - Some assets have low resolution
- - Luck still plays too much of a role