• When the offer to review Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords came along, I jumped at the opportunity. My curiosity as to how a mash-up of match-puzzler and RPG would work, pretty much made the decision for me. What I didn’t realize at the time, of course, was that D3Publisher and developer Infinity Interactive were in fact dealing the equivalent of ‘Arcade crack’ which nearly forced me to seek professional help in order to break the addiction that is Puzzle Quest: CotW. So I warn you now: If you’re not ready to say goodbye to your library of games, friends and family members, stop reading! For the rest of you, prepare your food and drink supplies, hit the restroom and grab a comfy spot on the couch. You’re gonna’ be there for a while…

    Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords

    Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords, simply stated, combines the best elements of an RPG and a match-three puzzler resulting in a very strategic yet simple to learn Arcade offering that anyone can enjoy. In true RPG form, players start the game by creating their hero, choosing between Druid, Knight, Warrior and Wizard races. From there, gamers are free to pursue a myriad Quests based on the main storyline, side missions, item collection and more. Players can also build their own multi-faceted Citadel. The buildings that make up the Citadel require a great deal of money to construct, but pay very high dividends once owned. Some perfect examples would be the Dungeon, which allows you to capture enemy combatants, along with the Mage Tower, which lets you research and master the spells of your prisoners. Other important buildings include a Stable, where players can train mounts, the Siege Tower, which allows for the siege of other cities and a Forge where players can craft powerful items from Runes they collect and more. Seem like a lot for just an Arcade game? Yeah, I thought so too!

    Building your hero’s skills is done on the battlefield. Or more correctly put, the Battle Grid. Made up of an 8 by 8 puzzle board, the Battle Grid is where Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords really shines. The goal on the Battle Grid is to defeat your chosen nemesis by reducing their hit points to zero before they do it to you. By matching 3 or more like icons, players can do direct damage to an opponent, build Mana needed to cast more powerful spells, build experience or fill their coffers with cash. Unlike typical match-puzzle games where the goal is to make as many matches as you can within a certain time limit, Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords requires players to analyze nearly every move in order to survive the battle. For example, in order for a Hero to cast spells, they must have a certain amount of Mana built up. Since each spell requires two or more types of Mana (there are a total of four different types) in order to be cast, acquiring exactly what is needed can take several turns. Players also need to consider building their experience points as well as their cash since advancing your Hero depends on leveling up and purchasing better weapons. Decisions, decisions…

    The game also features a boat load of Quests. Entering the world of Etheria, players will receive the bulk of main storyline quests from the Queen of Bartonia, while visiting other cities will offer a ton of side missions. Cities with available quests will show an exclamation point above them on the map (red for Main Quests and green for Side Quests). Along the way, gamers can add companions to help in battle, discover and collect Runes and, of course, stumble across enemies that need to be exterminated.

    Puzzle Quest: CotW also includes multiplayer options which allow players to bring their Hero, complete with accumulated attributes, directly onto the Battle Grid for some good old fashioned head-to-head play. Admittedly, the single player campaign is more fun than multiplayer, but because of the strategic challenge posed by a living, breathing human being, multiplayer modes are an admirable addition to the game and very much worth spending time with.

    Without a doubt, Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords is the deepest and most enjoyable game on Xbox LIVE Arcade. With so many tasks to accomplish, and the strategically-genius designed Battle Grid, players can’t help but get hooked on the addictive gameplay.

    Score: 9/10

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