I’m conflicted about tagging this as a game review. Because I’m not completely sure that’s what Puzzle Quest is.
It masquerades as a simple Popcap-esque brainteaser, a little casual gaming sundae laced with sprinklings of RPG-element crack to drag you in. Any friend of mine will tell you I’m a total slug for RPG games, and I do love a good DS-based casual puzzler (plus god knows I loves me some crack). So what’s the beef bringing the savoury spoilage to my delicious ice cream metaphor?
Well, it’s a tasty treat, but critically, it’s by no means a fair one. It repeatedly occurs that I’m grinding my opponent into dust only for the random tiles replenishing the board to trigger some chance hurricane of destruction that maxes out the enemy’s special move gauges, gives the cunt seventeen turns and I lose my shields. This isn’t a bloody game, it’s a device by which I repeatedly provide my opponent a stick with which to batter me. It’s like playing a game of football where every five minutes the referee declares the opposition striker gets to kick you full-on in the balls, and you’re not allowed to guard.
This is repeated ad infinitum, until I’m developing the gaming equivalent of battered wife syndrome. Knowing that any given move could cause the game to smack the shit out of me, I’m paranoid about making any move. My stylus shakes indecisively over the game board, obsessive about preempting the vicious onslaught – but if I don’t choose, I don’t get beaten, right? On some level I recognise that at some point playing Puzzle Quest I have fun, but I consistently come to the conclusion that the only winning move is to put the DS down and make myself a sandwich. Which feels like cheating, because a sandwich is a winner every time.
The most annoying thing about these games is not that they’re bad. Rubbing dog shit around inside my underpants doesn’t make my life a misery – because lacking any incentive, I just don’t do it. Like an abusive spouse though, the good times with Puzzle Quest are good. That glorious weekend at the beach. The time it got me a Mining Laser for valentine’s day. But then, the dinner’s not on the table, and I’m getting my face battered with a sock full of loose change. By which I mean mine tiles and a damage multiplier.
So is Puzzle Quest a good game? Yeah, I suppose it is, in the same way (to make the standard internet comparison) Hitler must have been a charmer – because there’s no way he’d have got those minorities gassed if he’d scrimped on the gameplay.
Or something like that. Anyway, play it for a bit, and tear your own fucking hair out. You don’t need me to tell you this shit.