Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords Review
Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords box art
System: Wii, X360, PS2, PSP, PC, DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: Viscous Cycle 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: D3 Publisher 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Nov. 29, 2007 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-2 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

And trust me, you're going to need all the damage you can deal. Even from the beginning, Puzzle Quest is a very tough game -- sometimes annoyingly so -- and the difficulty curve is quite steep. The game gives you a bit of guidance as to how to succeed in battle, but the majority of getting good at this game relies on you playing enough to really get good at seeing the opportunity for combinations. And then, once you place a time limit on each move (ranging from 15 to 3 seconds) you're really going to need an eye for setting up combos.

Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords screenshot

In fact, as you progress more and more into the game, the enemies seem to be downright unfairly suited. They have a lot of HP, and the mechanic seems to be playing in their favor -- they constantly get well-placed jewels and have a frustrating knack for setting up huge combos. And while it's immensely frustrating at first, the difficulty actually comes as a bit of a "breath of fresh air", especially considering the slew of pathetically easy DS games on the market right now.

There are also some more advanced aspects to this game that really don't occur until you get well into it. For example, you'll start gaining battle partners, and you can even conquer cities that are under enemy control. At this point, the game almost seems to be a bit overambitious, and while this is a very neat idea, you've got to realize that at its core, this title is essentially a very well dressed puzzle game.

Holding all this together is one final popular RPG convention: a plot. While it follows along a very overdone fantasy theme, it's pretty enjoyable. However, the plot is where the game gets into a bit of trouble. The story itself is fine with me, but what I absolutely could not stand was the incredibly miniscule text that's present throughout the entire game. I've got good eyesight and like to read, and yet I found myself actually skipping through portions of the text because I just couldn't stand to get three inches away from the TV screen and try and decipher what the words on the screen were. I don't know what on Earth happened, but the small text -- a very unorthodox problem -- really detracts from the storyline, solely because it may cause you to completely ignore it.

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Still, if you can get over that and appreciate the puzzle and role-playing elements that Puzzle Quest has to offer, you'll likely have a lot of fun with this game. Additionally, this title sports tons of replay value. Previously, I briefly alluded to character classes. There are four different classes: warrior, knight, druid, and wizard. The class that you choose at the beginning of the game will greatly affect the way that you play. Each class has very distinct spells, and it's actually really fun to play through the entire game with each different class. Trust me: there's TONS of replay value here.

Graphically, Puzzle Quest isn't all that impressive. The visuals are naturally crisper and nicer-looking than the DS version of the game, but that's something that I would certainly expect from a Wii title. The game looks fine, really, and puzzle games don't need to have brilliant visuals for it to work. Sure, the game's graphics aren't the best, but the game really doesn't suffer at all because of it.

Finally, there's a surprisingly fun multiplayer offering to be had with Puzzle Quest. It plays out just about identically to the single-player quest mode, except for the fact that, obviously, you're facing off against a friend rather than a computer opponent. Puzzle Quest is one of those games that is actually a lot more fun to play with a friend than by yourself, so the multiplayer offering is definitely worth checking out.

Puzzle Quest is by no means perfect. In fact, one of its most noticeable flaws happens to be an extremely weird one (tiny text) and immensely frustrating, and the game may not be good for casual gamers due to its high difficulty level. Still, if you can get over both those flaws, you're in for one heckuva good time. Puzzle Quest is addictive, exciting, and features some excellent multiplayer. What's not to like?

By Joseph Catalanotto
CCC Freelance Writer

Features:

  • Innovative Gameplay Style - Strategy and role-playing elements that function harmoniously in the puzzle gameboard setting offer a refreshing twist on classic puzzle gameplay, fostering an exceptional depth of investment and enjoyment.
  • Head-to-Head Gameplay Mechanism - Competitive, turn-based gameplay encourages you to plan, think and strategize against opponents instead of just react like most traditional puzzle games; game difficulty and progression are related to outsmarting your enemies as opposed to difficulty increasing solely through level progression.
  • No Penalty for Losing - If you experience defeat, you are still awarded experience points as well as partial gold and then encouraged to try again; this allows constant progression and avoids any feelings that invested play time is wasted.
  • Continuous Reward System - At every turn, you will acquire helpful companions, collect or cast powerful magic spells, gather informational "rumours," and obtain items like weapons, armour and money to advance your hero.
  • Short- or Long-term Play Sessions- Play in long or short doses since the depth of the game does not waver according to the length of a gameplay session; each battle ranges from 3-10 minutes.
  • Create and Build a Hero - Choose from two male and two female avatars in each of the four character classes-Druid, Knight, Warrior and Wizard-to create, develop and customise your ultimate hero.
  • Build Your Own Empire - Build an empire as you capture cities, build castles and gain a party of companions that will aid you in battle.
  • Three Distinct Gameplay Modes Offer Unparalleled Replayability
  • Instant Action: Jump in and immediately play continuous battles to level up your character without participating in quests


    RATING OUT OF 5
    RATING DESCRIPTION
    3.0
    Graphics
    They're not bad, but they're not that impressive either. Still, though, the game doesn't suffer because of it.
    4.0
    Control
    The Wii controls aren't incredibly innovative, but they work pretty well. There are a few little flukes here and there, but the more you play, the better you'll get at the pointing and clicking.
    4.0
    Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
    The little voice over that's present is good; the music is not incredibly memorable, but it's still pretty good.
    4.6

    Play Value
    The game is plenty of fun, and the multiple character classes provide plenty of reason to play through the game multiple times.

    4.1
    Overall Rating - Great
    Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
  • Screenshots / Images
    Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords screenshot - click to enlarge Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords screenshot - click to enlarge Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords screenshot - click to enlarge Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords screenshot - click to enlarge Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords screenshot - click to enlarge Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords screenshot - click to enlarge Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords screenshot - click to enlarge Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords screenshot - click to enlarge

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