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Puzzle Craft Review
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Puzzle Craft, a Match-3/city building mashup developed by AT Games and published by Chillingo, is now available from the app store.  Combining two popular genres, with progress made in each affecting your opportunities in the other, has made for an interesting and engaging mobile experience.

Puzzle Craft Pros:

  • Cute cartoonish environments that mix city-building and Match-3 gameplay interchangeably
  • Soundtrack has light-hearted medieval theme
  • Controls utilize tapping and line-drawing in intuitive and responsive ways
  • Manage all aspects of life for the settlers, using matching games to create necessary resources
  • GameCenter integration for global leaderboards and achievements

Puzzle Craft Cons:

  • Need to wait out real-world hours for tax collection
  • Somewhat repetitive and simplistic
  • Some crashing issues

Puzzle Craft begins by showing you a beautiful feudal valley with a majestic castle at its center, the history of which is the focal point of the game. You are tasked with playing out the history of turning the land from green pasture to bustling medieval establishment. To begin, you collect taxes from settlers, a task that becomes active again every 2 hours of real-world time. You then must set up a farmland, using tax dollars to pay workers to harvest the ingredients needed to make food for your people. Then, you’ll build a kitchen to provide food for potential workers, purchasing the building using some resources culled from the farm. In order to provide sustenance, you engage in a Match-3 session, using a Dungeon Raid-style line-drawing mechanic to connect matching food items. Every 10 collected items in a given category will be converted into another food item. The length of time spent in the matching session corresponds to a move timer that counts down through a year’s worth of seasons, giving you the chance to bolster your haul above and beyond the target amounts if you are good enough.

Once you hit your targeted amounts, you can feed your workers and send them off into the mines to collect the building blocks for your society, engaging in more Match-3 action so that you can create the buildings needed to support your efforts. Gameplay flip-flops back and forth like this as you create matches on the farm or in the mine to gain resources to build your town. You’ll also notice item upgrades, as matching a lot of a certain element will allow new elements to begin showing up within the puzzles. There are also a handful of special items (shovels, etc.) that can be obtained for use in matching puzzles, as well as objectives to meet that prevent disastrous effects on your new society (crops eaten by wild animals, etc.). You even gain experience points as you progress, unlocking specific buildings with specialized functions as you gain size. It has a strong Farmville feel but provides a bit more of a hands-on method to control the happenings within your kingdom and give you something to do while waiting for the hours to tick by.

Graphically, the cartoonish look reinforces its cheery, light-hearted nature, using great flourishes like snow-covered matching items to show that winter is upon you and the harvest is near. The buildings all have distinctive looks, and the presentation lays out necessary info in intuitive ways. Buttons for building structures, hiring workers, buying supplies, and the like adorn the screen bottom, while your cash count, experience level, and worker count are listed at the screen top near the button that shows your current resource types and counts. Interesting settlement info is access from the icon over your settlement. The soundtrack has a fun medieval theme, too, and plenty of sound effects add to the enjoyment. The controls utilize tapping and line-drawing in responsive ways to make negotiating the various tasks a breeze. IAP abounds for those looking for an edge, but it does not appear to be necessary to get full enjoyment of the game.

Replay value is decent, provided that you enjoy this type of freemiumesque game that requires waiting for real-world hours to pass in order to continue without paying. If you just enjoy the matching mechanic, there are some nice options out there that won’t have you checking your watch or pulling out your wallet. GameCenter integration allows for global leaderboards and nearly 4 dozen achievements to earn. A universal app for $0.99, Puzzle Craft is a clever 4-Dimple offering.

Puzzle Craft Review, reviewed by Kevin on 2012-08-20T22:55:35+00:00 rating 4.0 out of 5

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