[Review] Puzzle Quest: The Legend Returns – Nintendo Switch

Written by slimwiggins

Reviewed by Thomas

  • Developer: Infinite Interactive
  • Publisher: D3Go
  • Release Date: 19/09/2019
  • Price: $14.99 / £13.99
  • Review code provided by D3Go

Intro

Having a robust library with variety on my Nintendo Switch is a lot like having a fully stocked fridge. Food on hand to satisfy whatever craving should arise. A deep role-playing game is like a meal that needs time to cook with several key ingredients. Any given ingredients, either too little or too great of quantity can spoil it. An action game is like a microwave meal. Sometimes lacking depth but is quick and hits the spot. A lewd fan-service game is a little like milk just past its expiration date. You know you shouldn’t try it but you sometimes can’t help yourself, and you’ll likely pay for it with an upset stomach later. Then there’s the match 3 puzzle game. This is my ice cold drink. I like to have a few on hand since it’s the quickest and easiest to access. If the flavor is right, it can be extremely satisfying to relax with and doesn’t require a lot of thought. Puzzle Quest: The Legend Returns hits a few of those marks. Primarily a match 3 puzzle game with blended role-playing mechanics. So will Puzzle Quest satisfy your cravings or should you toss it in the bin for a more delicious snack?

A Match Made in Heaven

Following the role-playing tropes, Puzzle Quest has a fantasy narrative which drives the action forward. Though it won’t win any awards for brilliant writing or complex plot, the story is simple and serves its purpose. After selecting a hero you’ll be given a tutorial on how the game works. During this time you learn that the once peaceful land is plagued by rumors of undead sightings. As rumor turns into fact, you set out to solve the mystery and traverse a great area. There are a lot of factions and landmarks in which you’ll visit and interact with. The story is revealed as you take on more quests and is presented with typical dialogue boxes.

Match Like You Mean It

Puzzle Quest does a great job sticking to the match 3 basics. Each battle has you facing another opponent. Usually a monster or goblin of some type. The objective is to reduce their HP to zilch before they do the same to you. The playing field is made up by an eight by eight grid with red, yellow, green and blue orbs. Each of these represent mana. By linking them together you increase your mana for that specific color. During a battle you pool your mana to cast various spells which can damage your enemy or buff yourself. There are hundreds of spells and skill you can use in the game with several class options. In addition to the four main colors on the board are purple orbs to gain experience and gold coins to add to your coffers. Skulls can be matched to outright attack the other combatant. Matching four or more will grant an extra turn and occasionally you’ll unlock multiplier orbs which can be paired with any mana color.

Puzzle Quest has thirteen character classes to pick from and hundreds of quests. The replayability is nearly limitless. Not to mention the additional modes built into the core experience. Rather than having alternate play modes you can engage in from the main menu with random characters, you can unlock them with your main hero. Forging a new weapon requires you to clear unique orbs while learning a skill from a captured enemy has other requirements. In order to capture an enemy you have to clear a designated arrangement so nothing remains. There’s little risk to anything involved in Puzzle Quest, aside from time lost. If you lose a battle you can simply retry without penalty. Even in the game if you accidentally try to move one orb to another that doesn’t match, it simply gives you an error and you try again. That doesn’t mean every battle is easy. I got into some tough scrapes and lost time and time again to some foes. The difficulty on some enemies is nice because you have to plan more based on what spells they can cast. I fought a golem that could easily destroy me and heal itself every turn. I had to focus on taking all of the green mana as possible to prevent that from happening.

A Perfect Match

The graphics in Puzzle Quest differs based on handheld or docked mode. The avatar images came off blurry on the big screen but were fine when portable. The game board was crisp in either case and looked bright and clear. The same blurred effect cropped up on the world map on a television as well. Not surprising since it originated as a mobile game.

Match Set, Point

I can’t quite put my finger on the music. It’s not that it was bad but it wasn’t remarkable either. It seemed to have a chintzy quality to it and some of the transitions were rather abrupt. The voice acting also came off mechanical and didn’t really do the game justice. On the other hand, the sound effects were appropriate and when matching four or gaining an extra turn a louder clink would signify your good luck. The bursting success of a nice match was ever welcomed.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

When playing in docked or handheld mode on the Nintendo Switch, an occasional freeze would occur. Usually when matching a set of four or more which lead to a chain of orbs falling into place. The game would freeze for a split second and sometimes the visuals of the mana bursting wouldn’t happen. This issue didn’t crop up in every battle but certainly was noticeable when it did.

Final Wrap

Despite some of the graphical short falls when docked, Puzzle Quest is still one of the more enjoyable match 3 games. There’s never a shortage of events and enemies to crush and you can match to your heart’s content. Puzzle Quest: The Legend Returns has been the most played title on my Switch Lite and will likely remain at the top of my queue. It includes various DLC since it launched and is a great value for Nintendo’s hybrid system.

Pros

  • Engaging Match 3 Combat
  • Packed with Content
  • Scaled Difficulty

Cons

  • Blurred Graphics when Docked
  • Occasional Pauses in Battle

Verdict
Puzzle Quest: The Legend Returns is a tasty treat any Match 3 RPG fan will want to stock up on.
4/5

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