Puzzle & Dragons
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2013-04-29 Android Puzzle E (Everyone) GungHo Online Entertainment

At first glance, Puzzle and Dragons looked like a Puzzle Quest type of game, but after getting acquainted with the mechanics of it, there was quite a bit more under the surface than I expected. Puzzle and Dragons is indeed a puzzle game, but it mixes in plenty of RPG elements such as leveling up, capturing and evolving creatures, and exploring dungeons. In sum, it can be defined as a mix of Pokemon and Puzzle Quest.

You begin by having a basic set of monsters, each having a particular elemental property (light, wood, water, fire, darkness). You choose a dungeon to adventure in and off you go, advancing through the corridors (this is done automatically, so you don't actually explore) and facing whatever enemies come at you. Entering a dungeon costs stamina, which is replenished over time and when you level up.

When you enter a battle, the top of the screen will be your turn-based battle, and you will see little numbers near each monster, showing how many times you can move the orbs until they get their attack. The bottom becomes the puzzle screen, and a bit like in Puzzle Quest, your monsters require the use of orbs of their respective color. When you match there or more orbs, the monster of the corresponding color will perform an attack based on how many points you accumulate by matching the orbs. Creating combos adds multipliers to these values and can create devastating attacks. You can target a specific enemy by tapping it so that all of your party members kill it first, and matching five orbs creates an area attack that will damage all enemies on screen. Matching the pink heart gems heals your party, which has a common HP bar for all members.

You will also notice that after a while, your party members will flash. which means they can now use their skill (if they have one). Monsters can have attack (special attack, poison), support (healing, boost defense) or gem-swapping skills (turn a certain color of orb into another or into healing squares).

Moving orbs isn't done by the conventional "swap two adjacent" process. You can drag an orb anywhere on the screen within the time limit, but as you drag, you cause the orbs in the way to move as well. It's an interesting and challenging process that requires you to think outside the box when it comes to match-three games, and allows for plenty of possibilities. You will never run out of moves here, that's for sure, but if you're moving an orb all the way across the screen diagonally, it becomes more difficult to predict a combo.

In your adventures, you will find treasure in the form of gold and eggs. These eggs are new monsters that you can use to fight with, or to power-up and evolve your existing party members. This is done like in Blood Brothers where you use your lesser creatures to empower your party members. It works better when you use creatures of the same element, of course. Some of them are used as evolution materials, which turns your monster into the next, more powerful version of itself.

Puzzle & Dragons also has a social component where you can make friends and have them help you with a dungeon. Available helpers will appear before you enter the dungeon, and you can check them out to see their level and what skills they have that may complement yours. Once you choose a helper, they will join your party in battle Of course, this social feature means you need an active data connection. You can add explorers (non-friend helpers) or friends to your party and earn points as you fight together. Pal Points can be redeemed for eggs in the Machine.

As for other features, there are special dungeons, daily dungeons and weekend dungeons, most of them offering varying degrees of difficulty, and some of them available for a limited time only. You also get Gold Coins, Pal Points and Magic Stones for logging in on consecutive days.

Puzzle & Dragons may not be entirely innovative, but it has good music, good artwork and interesting gameplay that can get you hooked on for hours... or until your stamina runs out for the day.