GungHo Online Entertainment’s free-to-play Puzzle and Dragons has finally touched down in North America, the original mobile match puzzle RPG arriving stateside on iOS late to the party in the face of similar titles such asAngel Salvation or Jewel Dragon. Puzzle and Dragons is well worth the wait, as RPG and puzzle fans alike have plenty to enjoy in this monster collecting, dungeon crawling, orb matching mashup.
Many aspects of Puzzle and Dragons can be likened to systems found in thePuzzle Quest series, as players assemble an army of egg-hatched monsters that can be leveled and evolved to increase their stats and abilities. Each monster’s color corresponds to an orb type found on the puzzle board during dungeon exploration. When orbs are matched, the affiliated monsters will charge up and fire off attacks.
Players begin by executing three, four, and five match combos facilitated by creature abilities (Such as change all fire orbs to water orbs, for instance) and will quickly discover that creating large combo chains will yield explosive results. Fire is weak to water, wood is weak to fire, and so on and so forth, making team formation an interesting task for each dungeon at hand.
Dungeons in Puzzle and Dragons run the gamut, from quick three room skirmishes to massive special event crawls. As one would expect with any RPG, there’s treasure to be found, rare monsters and eggs to be retrieved, and big bosses to fight. There are plenty of different abilities to make monster formations interesting as well, as creatures can sport everything from AOE burst attacks to passive healing auras.
The game’s cash shop allows players to purchase magic stones that can refill stamina, expand monster storage space, and purchase random rare pets. Magic stones can also be acquired through gameplay, and although the game does embrace the standard free-to-play stamina/energy model, it’s quite easy to get thirty minutes to several hours of gameplay on a single bar.
Puzzle and Dragons also features a “friend” slot in party composition, a rotating monster slot that changes with each dungeon crawl. Players can bring their friend’s lead monsters along with them for significant benefits and advantages, including providing valuable “pal points” that can be used to purchase eggs from the shop. Doing many missions a day but don’t have a huge friendlist? Puzzle and Dragons provides players a listing of random explorers around their level upon dungeon entry, so players can try out someone’s monster during a run and then pitch friendship to them upon completion.
There are addictive elements in Puzzle and Dragons spanning multiple genres, and they all come together in a polished product that’s tough to put down. If you’re looking for a new title to try on your iOS device, Puzzle and Dragons is well worth the download.
Written by: Daniel Tack