Published on October 14th, 2015 | by Patrick Garde0
Puzzle Craft 2 Review
Puzzle Craft 2 is a match-3 game, mixed with a town builder from developer AT Games, and published by Chillingo. The iOS game has you following a small group of survivors who have shipwrecked onto an island. These survivors will quickly find out that they’re going to need to build, farm and whatever else to keep their town self-sustained. That’s where you come in to help this new town thrive and prosper.
Gameplay in Puzzle Craft 2, other than the initial building aspect of it all, which I’ll get onto in a moment, has to do with the match-3 mechanic. In-game you’ll need to collect resources, and to do that, you’re going to have to match all the connecting resources that are touching one-another, even if they’re diagonal; the more resources you get in one move the better, as you only have a finite amount of turns at your disposal. With each connecting resource that you collect, it will be added to a total; once that total is full, it will convert that resource into something useful. For instance, after collecting 8 pieces of wheat, you’ll make a loaf of bread, and that loaf can be used in the village/towns development, whereas the wheat cannot. Think of the wheat as a means to an end.
Unfortunately, however, not everything in life is free, and whenever you go in search of new resources, you’re going to have to pay. Thankfully, you’ll be paying in-game currency, also known as gold to pay for the harvesting of these resources. It’s the developer’s way of improving the energy-system that most free-to-play games have been plagued with, but not necessarily a way of outright removing it.
At times, you might be a little strapped for cash, or maybe you’ll have an overabundance. Well, you’re given the option to find some use for that via the shop. In there, you can sell resources you don’t want or have too much of to make an extra bit of cash here and there, or you can just straight up buy a resource with your hard-earned money, instead of feeling the need to just grind out for that one resource. It’s a nice alternative that’s been implemented that will save you the hassle of having to wait for taxes, or grind out in the coal mines.
Other than the initial gameplay of matching 3’s, you’re also going to have to build, upgrade, and develop your village. This is done through building, hiring workers, making tools, as well as collecting taxes. Buildings you can choose from a number of options, like a dwelling which will produce a villager for you to then hire into a worker once you get the chance. Other options are buildings that simply lets you collect tax, allowing you to pay to go on more harvesting missions. Another one might be an upgrade for somewhere where you collect resources, like the farm which will unlock new and interesting resources for you to make use of.
When you’ve decided on what building you would like to build, of which will cost you resources I should add, you get to pick where on the village map you would like to place it. Every location on the village is pre-determined, meaning that you don’t get to build the village exactly as you like, but you do have a decision on where you would like it to be placed. Doing so is purely visual, however, and it will not lead to anything special if you put a house next to a farm, or on the other side of the road.
Although it may be a shame to not have too much say on how your village is going to end up, the developers did completely remove a feature that I don’t think anyone enjoy about free-to-play games, and that’s being forced to sit and wait around for your buildings. This was one very welcome change, and easily tips the scales for a point in the game’s favor.
Moving on from buildings, you can make use of workers, providing that you have a villager to spare to turn them into one. There are specified workers who are linked to a specified resource when it comes to the match-3 gameplay of collecting resources. When you have made yourself a new worker, they will reduce just how much of that specific resource you need to collect. For instance, at the start of the game you need to match 10 trees in total to convert them into some wood, but if you get yourself a hold of a lumberjack, then that number will permanently go down to 9. Workers are invaluable to your cause, and the deeper into game you go, the sooner you’ll realize that when the game isn’t so kind with just how many moves you’re allowed.
Lastly is the making tools side of things! If you’re not looking to use your resources on buildings for the time being, you can opt to spend them on making some tools. Tools can be used while you’re in the middle of matching 3’s, and depending on which tool you use, it will clear out the entire board on the resource that tool is tied to. One upside to the tool, other than the initial one of not having to worry about connecting all the pieces of grass as best you can, is the fact that it doesn’t cost you a turn to use. You can use as many as you please, but it still won’t progress the timer one little bit, so that’s good to keep in mind.
Visually the iPhone game looks rather nice. It has a cartoony look to it, that I find works really well. Every inch of it is just colourful and nice to look at, a nice change from games of the same genre that doesn’t have as nice visuals as Puzzle Craft 2.
Eventually, you would have done everything that your little village has to offer, and the iPad game will then proceed to move you onto a bigger, more open space, with the potential for newer resources that you haven’t quite come across yet. Thankfully, though, instead of having the game force you to start again, you’ll take with you your upgraded buildings as well as everything else that you had in the last area. No need to worry about losing anything, as it will all be there right with you when you move.
Overall, Puzzle Craft 2 is a fun, nice and light free-to-play game. Gameplay isn’t too complicated to get to grips with, and at times you’ll find yourself convincing yourself to go for another run, just to get that last resource that you need. Combine that fun and simple gameplay with some nice looking visuals, and you’ve got yourself a fun free-to-play game, without all the nasty extras that you would normally see with them. It must be said the energy-system may not exist, but it is circumnavigated in way that could be considered an alternative to the original system. Quite frankly, however, this system is definitely an improvement over the more traditional energy-system, which I’m sure you’ll notice for yourself.
Summary: Puzzle Craft 2 may have elements of a cow-clicker, but at the meat of it all, it has solid, fun gameplay that is easy to pick up and play, and that you can get in and do in a matter of minutes. With the exclusion of some of the most detested features of free-to-play games, this puzzle game for iPhone and iPad certainly warrants you to spend some time with it.