Developer: Infinite Interactive
Release Date: Q3 2008
Most times, a browse through any respectable gamer's collection of Xbox Live Arcade titles will reveal a copy of Puzzle Quest among the contents. This surprise smash took the simplicity of matching colors and deepened it with various RPG elements, creating an experience that was nearly universally beloved. The joy of colored gem swapping isn't over, as the sequel has been revealed, and fans of the previous game will be foaming at the mouth to get their hands on Puzzle Quest: Galactrix.
The plot is still rather hazy at this point, but we do know that the game asks the question, "What if humans had no souls?" Apparently, in the future, evil corporations rule all mankind, and their greedy ways have somehow robbed humanity of its very essence. You play as a young pilot in an upgradeable ship (no character selection this time) who must fight these evildoers and save the galaxy.
Rather than the traditional linear puzzling of its elder, Galactrix uses a hexagonal field where you must match at least three of a kind either up and down, right to left, or diagonally. In a strategic twist, the arena you play in determines how pieces fall. If you are within a planet's atmosphere, all new pieces will fall from the top of the screen, but if you are in space, the pieces will fill from whatever direction you made the combo. This variant gravity system creates an added layer of strategy and can pay off with big combos for the observant player.
The different-colored gems in the playing field will augment different parts of your ship. Weapons, engines, shields, etc., can all be enhanced, and matching white gems will increase your intelligence-gathering stats, which supposedly will make a difference in revealing story elements and assisting you outside of combat. Damage is determined by matching pieces with numbers (1, 3, 5 and 10), and you must deplete your foe's shields before you can damage his hull. It's quite a fully realized battle system, and this isn't simply the race to make the most matches, as you've seen in so many titles that have come before.
The developers also mentioned that there would be diplomacy and commodity systems, though they didn't elaborate on what exact roles they would play. From the sound of things, this is shaping up to be a very complex game, and the actual gameplay may be taking a backseat to strategy and new game elements.
Puzzle Quest: Galactrix is shaping up to be an ambitious title, expanding on its predecessor's determination to show how gem-swapping puzzle games can be more than what we've become accustomed to. There are high hopes for this title, and it has quite the pedigree to live up to, but with the Puzzle Quest name attached to it, you can be sure that Infinity will do its best to ensure this game is just as beloved as the last one.
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