When it comes to on-the-go gaming, no genre fits the bill as well as puzzlers. SwapQuest combines path-making mechanics and RPG elements to create one unique formula. It's addictive, adorable, and challenging so let's get this quest started.
SwapQuest begins with the choice between playing as Prince Wilbert or Princess Wilma. Also, you get to select your favourite character class which can give you an upper-hand if you pick one that matches your play style. I chose the Tinkerer and I must say that it worked out quite well. Anyway, their kingdom of Aventana is in danger from a threatening entity known as The Horde so it's up to them to save the day. You play the campaign one stage at a time. Each stage automatically scrolls so you have to keep moving tiles around to form a path so your hero doesn't fall too far behind. Along the way, you'll battle enemies, open treasure chests, avoid hazards, and discover many secrets. You move tiles by simply touching and dragging them on the screen. You can also control your hero by tapping them to stop them in their tracks then tap whichever direction you want them to move along. Although they automatically battle foes, you can use an acquired ability whenever it's fully charged. This mix of mechanics makes for an incredibly addictive formula that's oh so satisfying to master.
Visually, SwapQuest is a rather charming little game. The pixel-perfect characters and environments are lively, colourful, and detailed. However, the environments can be quite empty at times. It's great to see when birds fly by and critters run across the screen, but there are frequent long stretches without much to look at. That being said, it's only a small complaint because the immersive gameplay definitely overshadows any potential graphical monotony. The music is composed of jaunty orchestral pieces that are very catchy and add a layer of frivolity to the already adorable presentation. Overall, it's hard not to fall in love with all of the cuteness on display.
SwapQuest boasts a very rewarding character growth system. You collect jewels as you play and can earn even more by completing optional achievements such as beating a stage with full health or defeating the mid-boss. You use these jewels to buy better weapons and armour, upgrade abilities, and enhance your equipment. On top of this, you earn experience points which let you level up and evolve your character class thus granting you new abilities. It's great to watch your little fellow grow up over the course of the game.
There are so many things to do throughout your journey besides just finishing stages. You'll come across a few bosses along the way that are very unique and imaginative as they require a lot of thinking outside the box to slay. After reaching the end of the adventure, you gain the ability to revisit any stage as you wish. So, in essence, you haven't really reached the end. At this point, you try to gather all twelve crystal shards in order to obtain the true ending and can also complete any missed jewel challenges (optional stages that act like mini-games). Believe it or not, there's more. Many secrets are hidden around the game world that are fun to uncover such as a completely hidden area. If that's not enough, you can tackle an endless mode to see how high you can score.
My biggest issue with SwapQuest is the fact that your finger regularly gets in the way. This could have been remedied by enlarging selected tiles but instead you just have to hope for the best. Of course, you'll get used to it after playing for a while but it's definitely a significant hurdle to overcome. However, once you get accustomed, you're in for a real treat.
SwapQuest is the best portable puzzle game that I've played in a very long time. In fact, I can't wait to get this review up so I can keep playing it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to see if I can beat my endless mode high score.
- + Addictive blend of puzzle RPG mechanics
- + Cute visuals and catchy tunes
- + Awesome character growth system with tons of challenging content to take on
- - Environments can feel empty at times
- - Selected tiles aren't enlarged so your finger frequently gets in the way