And so to Marvel Puzzle Quest (Dark Reign, to use the full name on its birth certificate), a game that splices the world of Marvel superheroes with – you guessed it – Puzzle Quest.
I really liked Marvel Puzzle Quest at first. Then I didn’t like it so much. Now I love it more than ever. It’s been a real rollercoaster ride of emotion.
On the surface, it’s easy to see the appeal of Marvel Puzzle Quest. It’s essentially a match three game in Marvel clothing, with an impressive roster of superheroes and villains.
In addition to familiar names like Iron Man, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Thor and Juggernaut, you’ll find guys like the Amazing Bag-Man. “Who the furg is he?” I hear you scream.
Marvel Puzzle Quest explains: “Having removed his symbiote suit with the help of Reed Richards, a naked Spider-Man dons a Fantastic Four suit and a paper bag mask to get back into action as the Amazing Bag-Man.” Incredible stuff.
Throw in a full story mode with occasionally amusing dialogue, and you’re onto a winner with Marvel Puzzle Quest.
But wait! It’s entirely free to download, and that being said, I’m sure you can imagine where the problems start to creep in.
Marvel Puzzle Quest is fairly easy going – and at times generous – in the early stages, but you know it’s only a matter of time before it extends its virtual hand to ask for a donation.
And yes, true to freemium form, there’s a violent difficulty spike fairly early on, where each of the story branches is suddenly ranked – by Marvel Puzzle Quest’s own definition – “Impossible”. Son of a…
But wait again! Before you go deleting Marvel Puzzle Quest and/or writing an eloquent one-star review on the App Store, it’s worth sticking around.
See, a large portion of the stages can be replayed, with several key items up for grabs, ultimately allowing you to – very slowly, admittedly – improve your character stats.
The best part, however; after going back and grinding for an hour or so, Marvel Puzzle Quest rewarded me with a Level 30 Wolverine. I almost destroyed my pants.
Brilliantly, Marvel Puzzle Quest automatically reassesses the difficulty of each match-up, and in my case, the Impossible branches became Normal, while the Easy ones were deemed Trivial.
And better still, I’m really starting to appreciate the intricacies of Marvel Puzzle Quest. The more you start to consider the various powers offered by your roster, and the powers of your opponents, the more chess-like it becomes.
Clearly I’ve spent a good while defending Marvel Puzzle Quest’s free-to-play aspect, but trust me when I say it’s also a deceptively deep – and thoroughly satisfying – game.
- Marvel + match three = awesome
- Deceptively deep and rewarding gameplay
- The hilariously dramatic music
- The freemium stuff (not actually that bad)
- The sudden difficulty spike (see above)
- The trash talk is a bit hit-and-miss
Summary: On the face of it, Marvel Puzzle Quest might seem like a nightmare adventure in freemium high jinks, but scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find a game that threatens to consume months of your life.
iOS compatibility: Requires iOS 5.1 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.
Android compatibility: Requires Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) or above.