The original Puzzle Quest (and its sequel) were wonderful blueprints for how to meld tried and true match 3 (or 4 or 5 in some instances) gameplay with light RPG elements that are easy to pick up but offer some nice depth as well. While the core gameplay is relatively unchanged, that doesn't mean there haven’t been some enhancements to cater to Marvel’s universe. For those unfamiliar, you still build up certain colors to activate character specific abilities which have a variety of special effects. Build up enough purple combos and you can activate Hawkeye’s take aim ability, which will clear a whole row, or combo enough green to light up the opposing squad with a large scale lightning strike, courtesy of Storm. Certain abilities, such as Black Widow’s aggressive recon, are invaluable since they keep the opponent from using their abilities by removing a certain number of colored gems from their stash (shocker, but Juggernaut is a pain in the rear once he gets going). Chaining together combos is crucial, and while I've played a great deal of this type of game before, it's still just as addictive as it's ever been.
There is also some light micromanaging as far as leveling goes. A recent update to the game changed things around a bit, but the premise remains the same. Each battle comes with a set number of rewards you can randomly win, including character cards (used to level up powers and unlock abilities), health packs, recruitment cards, currency, and random amounts of Iso 8, used to raise your character's level. Before the update it was unclear exactly how your character’s level affected your stats or powers, but that has since been streamlined. I will say the number of times I've had to play the same battle and come away with nothing more than 20 Iso 8 is a bit ridiculous, and that ratio could use some slight adjusting.
The writing is quippy and lighthearted, and mostly just provides a chuckle or two before telling you to go here or go there, but I appreciate that the team took the time and effort to put so much of it in. The art is well done, and the ability effects are still entertaining even after numerous uses, and said effects are wisely quite quick and don’t take up too much time. Good thing too, since you're be seeing them quite a lot. One thing that sticks out like a sore thumb, though, is the lack of characters, but with the game being relatively new, I’ll cut it some slack. Again, it's a random pull when turning in points for characters, and on two occasions I have turned in 150 coins only to come away with the “special uncommon” Spider-Man Bag Man variant card.
Someone tell me how that qualifies as a special card? Uncommon I’ll give you, but when trying to go for Captain America or X-Force Wolverine, it's a bit deflating to keep getting what basically amounts to an old pissed off Saints fan as a character.
I haven’t spent much time with the versus, but the little time I have spent with it has been enjoyable. Versus modes tend to not be a huge draw for me in these kinds of games (or many games for that matter), but it's good to see the developer putting so much effort into community events and tournaments to keep up the player activity. Also a plus is that at least so far, I haven’t had to spend one cent and have gotten an immense amount of enjoyment from D3 and Demiurge Studio's free to play title. The first big update ironed out many of the UI and leveling up kinks I had an issue with, and if they continue to balance those pull ratios and add more characters (which seems to be a given), I see a long and prosperous future for their game.
Just tell me when I can get my Groot and Cardiac cards so I can start my Puzzle Quest takeover.