Monday, 16 December 2013

Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign

There's a free game from the makers of Puzzle Quest, and it's a Puzzle Quest game!

I'd actually never played Puzzle Quest, so I didn't know exactly what it was like, but I had some idea.  Also it's bejeweled, so everyone already knows how to play it.  On the other hand, I also never played much bejeweled, so I'm not any good at it.

So you match tiles gaining coloured points for each tile of the colour your remove.  Each hero has damage for each colour and power that use tiles of each colour.  Match tiles, damage enemies, use powers, win, etc.

Of course free games aren't free, so the question is how they are trying to get your money.

You progress by beating missions, which are fights.  Each mission has a series of randomized rewards.  You get a reward the first time but each successive time you have a random chance of getting jack instead of getting something real.  The rewards are crystals (ISO-8), coins (hero points) and comic book covers.  Comic book covers add a power or a level of a power to a hero.  If you don't have the hero then you get the hero.

You can buy more or use ISO-8 to go up levels, but the maximum level of a character is based on the rank of powers they know.  So to progress you mainly need to pick up covers.  You get some from missions at the beginning, but after giving you a few heroes to start with you start having to deal with random covers.  The problem is that to level up a hero you need lots of covers for the same hero and there are lots of different random heroes to get.

You can also level up powers by spending coins, so I think that's their main expected source of income.  Buying covers from the store is random, so you'd have to drop a fantastic sum to get anywhere.

The way I see it there are a few cash points.  You can buy coins for about a cent each or about two thirds of that if you are willing to put in $20.  So with the 3k coins you'd get from that $20 you could buy up the levels of your heroes' powers and level up much more quickly, though you'd still need crystals from playing to do so.  You can also buy new heroes for 300 coins each.  The 300 coin heroes are always two star heroes which are better than the one star heroes you get from most of the missions.

So $20 to level a little faster, but if you really want to go ape with the power characters, you are probably looking at dropping a lot more than that.  The problem is that once you invest you have to invest more.  If you unlock a two- or three-star hero, you are unlikely to get another copy of them without spending more.  You need to spend on random heroes to unlock their other powers, and then you have to spend $5 on each power.

All in all I would think that $100 in you could get pretty much whatever you want, though it may be more like $200 since I don't know anything about how many high rank heroes there are.  The game seems to play okay without spending money, just make sure you don't skip the PvP since that's comparatively large rewards for little effort.

I'm not sure if I find it really fun.  The big problem is that thing where you can do a mission more than once and have a chance when you do to crap out on the reward.  Replaying an easy mission five, six, or ten times is pretty tedious, even if the basic gameplay is pretty good.

I'm playing this game for free for now, but I'm not going to be paying in.  I don't find their payment structure as absurd as Plants vs. Zombies 2, was, though.  You can get it on Steam or on iOS, so I'll probably be playing it during my lunch hour at work.


  1. Tobold said something about how he spent money to increase his number of hero slots in order to play more games between healing up?

    1. Yes, you can increase your hero slots for money too. That might be a good option if you want to put five bucks into the game, but you can earn enough coins through missions to get a reasonable number of slots. The idea that this can help you avoid healing up seems implausible to me since you need to continue to level up your dudes if you want to play the later missions. I suppose that if you were strategic about leaving earlier missions with rewards you wanted to come back for it might help a little?

  2. I donno. I haven't played the game. I did somewhat like Puzzle Quest, but it was mostly something to do on the bus and not something I want to do at my computer.