The addictive puzzler, 'Puzzle Quest' gets a space aged make-over in 'Puzzle Quest: Galactrix.' Abandoning the barbaric savagery of medieval times, Infinite Interactive sends gamers into the void of deep space to match gems and test their abilities in this futuristic tale.
'Puzzle Quest: Galactrix' is shortly set to hit a downloadable networks across north America, however if you want to get your hands on Infinite Interactive's galactic puzzler you’ll need to fire up that PC, or Nintendo DS. For this review we chose the Nintendo DS version of the game; however I have spent time on both the PC and the Nintendo handheld. Both versions are similar with the Nintendo DS taking the obvious hit in the graphics department, but it’s not all a downside. The Nintendo has portability and the touch screen on its side. Either way go you're likely to have a good time as you get addicted to Puzzle Quests intergalactic mingling.
It is interesting that Infinite Interactive chose a new route for Puzzle Quest to explore. The old formula of riding on giant spiders and fighting the dark medieval forces worked brilliantly in their previous releases. Given how much I enjoyed the “old” formula, I was extremely interested in how the lonely dark void of space would affect this light-hearted role-playing puzzler. It seems that space had a looming effect on Puzzle Quest as its standard horizontal gameplay has been sucked into a new hexagonal match games resembling Hexic. Like Hexic and 'Challenge of the Warlords,' Puzzle Quest retains its addictive qualities.
If you haven’t played Hexic in the past it then you likely don't own an Xbox 360, or don't spend too much time on MSN games. Hexic was created by the original creator of Tetris featuring gameplay that has you grouping hexagonal pieces in clusters of three. When the pieces are formed they disappear and new pieces fall into their vacant spots. Why I'm talking about Hexic so much is because Galactrix directly “borrows” off of the Hexic gameplay with their own except Infinite has added a few unique twists to the mix.
In Galactrix you will have different objects to be accomplished by being victorious in a round of Galactrix-Hexic. Similar to Hexic you are required to match three hexagonal pieces together, however gravity affects the pieces and how they fall together. If you battling in orbit of a planet the pieces will fall downward, and if you battling in open space the pieces fall in the direction that you made swiped the connecting piece. Having two different ways to play the game is an interesting and strategic take on the Hexic formula that makes Galactrix more interesting. The open space battles are much more involved with the player having full access to manipulate the board in many different ways.
Crafting a new stance in the puzzle genre, Galactrix is much more than a match three clone. Galactrix one side is that of the puzzle game and the other is a role-playing game that involves everything you love from the genre including statistics, quests, micro-management and more. In Galactrix you take on the role of a human space captain who has to find his or her way through the cosmos of outer space. The storyline behind Galactrix is a little darker than the light-hearted feel of 'Challenge of the Warlords' which helps draw you into its oddly addictive genre mash-up. For specifics Galactrix starts off with the bleak, Earth has been destroyed scenario which pits the only four surviving fractions squabbling over leadership of the human race. Thankfully the mood lightens a bit when Infinite fast forwards time a few hundred years later where the human race lives in the stars with a variety of other alien species.
Starting you off is a mission to find a rouge mutated experiment which only leads into more chaos and random missions in the deep regions of space. Helping you along is a variety of characters who offer to join your crew as you make you vary own Starship Enterprise of sorts to explore and investigate the different planet clusters in space. The navigation is handled by jumping from jump gate to jump gate exploring each section in a region. It’s like the old format in Warlords, except it is thrown into a more complex branching system. It can be a little complex to wrap your head around all the basics in the beginning until the learning curve comes full circle. It takes about an hour or two to become comfortable with Galactrix, and by that time you should be hooked. Galactrix is highly addictive and hard to put down once you’ve started. The “one more round” mentality usually invaded my game making short sittings into long sittings which is great if you have the mobility of the Nintendo DS version.
Combat is still a big part of this Puzzle Quest adventure and all the armour, spells and stats have been transferred over to shields, hull damage and mechanic ship upgrades. The ship has become the mage, the elf, the barbarian. When you win battles, or complete quests you can earn credits which can used to develop or purchase new parts. You’ll also be able to mine asteroids in the game which gives you resources that can be sold for profit, or turned into goods to build new inventions or complete quest. Galactrix has a complex trade system spread across the rather large playing field which will be ignored by some and embraced by others. Micro-management is more important then the previous game which teeters on being a pro and a con. How involved you want to get in Galactrix is totally up to you, the game never forces you to become and an obsessive compulsive, but you can get down deep if it brings you pleasure.
If you never played a Puzzle Quest game in the past all this information might seem like the game is overwhelming, but its simply not. Puzzle Quest is carefully crafted to appeal to fans of puzzle gamers with the role-playing elements to add substance and reason to continue playing. Instead of simple leveling up level after level, Galactrix will have you exploring the solar system with loads of missions to keep you busy. There is more than enough replay value tucked away into this game, it's almost limitless.
'Puzzle Quest: Galactrix' is a more complex and involved twist on the strategy, role-playing, puzzler genre that Puzzle Quest has defined. Infinite Interactive latest puzzle questing should please all the fanatics who loved the original and will please new gamers looking for something “more” out of their puzzle games. This is a highly addictive and fun puzzle game that every Nintendo DS owner should check out. To infinity and beyond...
Gameplay: 8.5, Graphics: 7, Sound: 7.5, Innovation: 8.5, Mojo: 8.5 Final: 8.0 / 10
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 03.02.09