I have always been a fan of puzzle games. I had Tetris and Dr. Mario on my NES, was extremely good at Columns on my Genesis and sunk countless hours into Bejeweled. They are a good, often semi-mindless way to kill some time. RPG’s are probably my favorite video game genre, however. The blending of puzzle and RPG in Puzzle Quest was a lot of fun when I first gave it a shot on my PSP a few years ago, and I have enjoyed a lot of similar titles since. Of those, Gyromancer has been among my favorites.
It helps that the game has a great pedigree – it is brought to you from Popcap Games (who created such classics as Bejeweled, Peggle and Plants vs. Zombies) and Square Enix, who have a long, enjoyable if not always perfect history with the RPG genre. I never played Bejeweled Twist, but it sounds like the primary mechanic is quite similar. Instead of rotating varied shapes or swapping one jewel for another, you actually take a cluster of four colored jewels and twist them in a direction as you attempt to then match three. It sounds pretty simple, and it is once you wrap your brain around it – it was quite different from what I was used to at first.
The game also throws a lot of variables into it. Unlike Puzzle Quest where you and your opponent take turns, you perform all of the moves, but the quality of the move affects your creature’s powers as well as your opponents. Create a match three of your creature’s color alignment, you boost their attack significantly more than your opponent’s beast. Fail to create a match at all, and your opponent’s creature will see a tremendous boost. Once an attack/skill bar is filled, it becomes a gem on the board. You have a certain number of turns to try and perform a match three on your opponent’s skill gem to negate it, or it triggers. When you create a skill gem, you twist to match it with two other colors to perform your attack.
Graphics – 7:
There really is not a whole lot going on here. There is very little in the way of animation going on here beyond the twisting of gems and the occasional particle effect. Still, what is there is generally nice and detailed, including the art used for characters and creatures.
Sound & Music – 6:
No voice acting and the sound effects, while decent, are nothing special and are reused over and over again. The music was pretty solid however. Not the best and certainly did not stick in my mind the way some Final Fantasy tunes in the past have, but it was certainly serviceable.
Gameplay – 8:
I described the puzzle elements in detail above, and that system works out pretty well. Moving around the map as you try to unlock paths and combat monsters works pretty well too. There is a fair amount to do with finding and collecting new monsters, leveling up, and even a handful of items that can affect gameplay by reversing the direction you twist for a turn. There are challenges you encounter on some of the maps, and I did find some of the more advanced ones a bit annoying. On RPG style games I have a tendency to unlock everything – I trophied 100% of Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes. Not everything came easily, but it never really got terribly frustrating. I cannot say the same about some of the challenges later in the game here, as several of them were annoying and I finally decided to forgo certain unlockables.
Intangibles – 7:
Getting new monsters is cool, and I enjoyed replaying levels after getting stronger to unlock things I missed. The leveling up part is also a fun RPG element, and the quest itself lasted a good length of time. Still, it missed a few marks for me. There is no multiplayer, which would have given me a reason to keep playing once I had beaten everything I could (except a handful of annoying challenges). And the RPG elements did not feel quite as fleshed out as Puzzle Quests 1 & 2 where you equip gear, train pets, learn new skills and have a greater sense of exploration.
Overall – 7:
I enjoyed the game quite a bit, but not as much as Puzzle Quest 1 or 2. It was still a fun diversion that lasted me almost a week and a half of on-again/off-again play. I picked it up on Steam very cheaply at the time, and it was definitely worth the three or four dollars I paid. I would not have felt bad though paying the full $14.99 it is normally though either. If you like these types of titles, this is a pretty good direction to go.