In the kingdom of TouchGen all is well, and the king has matched some nice carrots.
Puzzle Craft is at the core two completely different games mashed into one, but never played simultaneously. To get more assets you play a match by drawing the line through kind of tile game. It is not a genre yet, but as reference you might have Dungeon Raid and Wargames. The other aspect is about building an empire by selecting what to build first, and what workers you need. This might sound like a good setup, and well it is. What makes the game rather confusing is the fact that you collect taxes, revenue and harvest at set intervals. If you have played any kind of freemium empire building game you got the idea right away. We Rule, Snoopy’s Fair and Trade Nation all rely on this coming back later mechanic. It keeps Puzzle Craft in the mind that an ordinary match puzzler wouldn’t.
You get to start your own medieval fantasy kingdom from scratch, and what is the first thing people need to settle down? Food. Yes one of the biggest assets is food in different form. To get more food you play a match puzzle that I find to be a great take on the match three formula. It takes some planning to get the most out of every harvest, as winter approaches fast. It might not be timed, but rather you have limited number of moves to do before the season ends. Just making a simple match three won’t cut it, you have to make huge lines. As lines get longer there is a new commodity added to the final tile, and you get a bunch of experience. Matching up trees might yield a pig, and if you manage to get three pigs it is much more valuable than five chickens.
The food is then used to feed the miners when you play another match three line game. Clearing away dirt, and then matching up stone, and different metals in a number of moves is quite daunting. Not that it is hard, or will kill you. It is just that it is important to maximize the outtake to get the empire wealthy.
Using food, stone and metals you can then buy new houses and functions. Expanding the kingdom is the main motivating behind Puzzle Craft. There are no wars, as far as I have come in my kingdom development. This is also more in line with the freemium empire building games.
IAP litters the game, and I really think that someone has messed up the prizing of Puzzle Craft. I think it is meant to be completely free. A lot of users will probably complain, and even give bad ratings due to this oversight. Either freemium, or paid, not both.
The presentation is cute, and highly functional. I must mention that the game is universal, but because of the freemium nature with waiting periods and being played in portrait mode I prefer it on the iPhone. Being able to quickly tax my empire when standing in line is great.
If you can get past the slightly confused business model of Puzzle Craft you have quite a lot of fun casual gameplay here. It is satisfying to build a new cottage using assets you have matched to get yourself. Just make sure to turn off the possibility to use IAP by changing your iTunes password, and then forget it right away.
Puzzle Craft $0.99 Universal for iPad/iPhone/iPod
Seller: Chillingo Ltd