Puzzle Quest:Battle of Gruulkar Review (It’s about time)

Review by Dave LeClair

puzzleIf you have listened to our podcast than you are more than likely familiar with my love for PuzzleQuest. (If you haven’t listened to the podcast, than you should.) I had vowed to mention PuzzleQuest every week until it came out, and it finally has, but did it live up to all the hype I had put down? Well obviously I’m not going to answer that until you click through for the full review, so get on it!

I more or less had this review written, and than an update was announced, I thought long and hard and decided to hold off on my review until after the update was released. It was a hard decision, but considering that the update was supposed to be a complete game changer, I held off. So I’ve had a little time with the update, and now it’s time to lay down the final word.

At first the graphics in the game were completely broken. The text was unreadable, and the framerate was like a half a frame a second whenever anything was happening on the screen. The text has now been fixed and is fully legible. However the framerate is still not awesome. It’s not the worst I’ve ever seen but it could still be better. It’s not a deal breaker, but when you make a big chain, it’s hard to tell exactly what is happening. Still though, the game looks pretty solid.

puzzlemapThe game is just as fun to play as it ever was. The compelling mix of RPG and puzzle game is just perfect for the iPhone. I’ve already played all the way through PuzzleQuest on the Ds, and it was still just as fun the second time as it was the first time.

Before I sit here and gush about how great the game play in PuzzleQuest: Battle of Gruulkar is, it would be helpful if explained just how PuzzleQuest works. It’s a basic RPG, mixed with match 3 puzzles. So you walk around the game world taking on quests, and whenever you get into a battle you are put into a match 3 battle. Different items on the board have different effects. Colors give you mana to cast spells and skulls directly damage your opponent. There’s a lot more depth as well, such as the ability to capture enemies and learn their spells, or laying siege to cities to make money from them. Overall, there is a ton to do, and it never gets old.

I’ve sunk more hours into PuzzleQuest than any game on my iPhone by a long shot. In fact, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say that, between all platforms, I have probably sunk more hours into PuzzleQuest than any game ever made for any platform. There is just something about the gameplay that feel so fresh and new, even after I’ve beat the game multiple times.

original1I was a little upset when I found out that they were not releasing all of PuzzleQuest in one shot, rather, they are dividing it into three parts, which frustrates me a little, but there is still hours and hours of game in the first part that I can’t really complain. The value is still there compared to most other games on the app store. If you are looking for a very long game to keep you busy for a good long time, than this is where you want to look.

Overall, with almost every complaint being addressed in the update, there is no reason for me not to recommend PuzzleQuest, as it is an incredible gaming experience. I think it’s one of the deepest games on the iPhone right now, and if you still haven’t bought it, than you should, because other than some framerate issues the game is amazing.

Presentation & Graphics
With the update the graphics are very good, but the framerate still suffers a little and that keeps it from being perfect.

Nothing special, no voice acting but nothing wrong with the sound.

The most fun I have ever had in a game. Period.

There is easily 20+ hours of gameplay in PuzzleQuest. One of the deepest games on the iPhone by far.


It’s so close to perfect it’s sickening, if they just had the framerate down it would be a five out of five no question. Even still, this is my favorite game on the iPhone by a mile.

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  • Alan

    Fully legible? You seriously have to be kidding. While the battle screen font has certainly been improved, there are no other font changes whatsoever. Some of the screens still suffer from microscopic text problems, e.g., the screen that appears after a victorious battle with gold and experience won. Purple type on a black background? Incredible. The game is great. The port is awful, simply awful and 4.5 stars is ludicrous. Just for the attempt to foist this on the public, it deserves no more than 2 stars.

  • TSP

    Just because you are obessessed with Puzzle Quest you can´t write this kind of review. Puzzle Quest as it is is a scam. Taking an old game and dividing it into 3 parts charging full Nintendo DS price…3 years ago is a ripoff. So please stay focused on that aspect, the old DS version is still better than the Iphone-version. Other than that I enjoy your site and podcast.

  • iPGN-Matt

    I can’t comment on the actual gameplay, but complaining that they are charging the same price as the DS over 3 parts is kinda unrealistic. If it’s the same game, why wouldn’t they charge full price? Just because a game has been out for a while doesn’t mean you’re required to drastically reduce the price, especially if it’s still a popular game.

  • TSP

    The price in itself is not the biggest problem with this for me, instead I think that they should have released it as ONE game instead of 3 parts. I would have paid 25-30 bucks for a complete working port of Puzzle Quest but this is just a lazy port with zero love for the fans.

  • Joe

    On there Gametreelive site ( they say the ‘Revenge of the Plague Lord’ will be included with the other chapters. So in the end it looks like you could end up with more game then the DS version.

    But what I want to know is there multiplayer? Half the fun I had with Puzzle Quest was challenging others.

  • iPGN-Dave

    We at iPGN love hearing your opinions, even if they aren’t the same as ours. Thanks for the comments guys, keep them coming!

  • davefail

    I really liked the game but man that reviewer is terrible am i right

  • iPGN-Nige

    Check out Davo’s interview with the developer

  • TSP

    You shouldn´t send your fanboy to interview his top pick developer, utterly pathetic but still enjoyable to hear the developer. All I heard was “screw Iphone users we want mo money, money, money”.

  • iPGN-Dave

    Well I kind of picked myself to do the interview, so you can’t blame anyone for “sending me.”

  • BadYeti

    I enjoyed this review, but I have to agree with Alan in saying that the game’s UI is still tremendously flawed.

    Puzzle Quest is a fantastic game, but this port is still lacking as of version 1.1. Keep in mind that this game was first released on the Nintendo DS, with a combined screen resolution of 256×384 versus the iPhone’s 320×480. The game was perfectly readable and eminently playable at 256×384; why is it so painful to do so with more than 50% additional screen real estate?

    And it’s not just the text. The tutorial “?” buttons, for example, are only 1.5mm in radius and highly unresponsive. Try starting a new game and tell me how many attempts it takes you to click each of the question mark icons on the main screen. It’s brutal.

    Plus, version 1.1 still doesn’t give players a UI option to view enemy equipment and status effects, unlike all the other gaming platforms.

  • TSP

    I hate you Dave:)

    Well I had to buy it finally and technically it isn´t worth more than maybee 2 stars but man o man it is truly puzzle quest and I am enjoying it like crazy. To some extent I have to apologize for my harsh critisim of your review, it is hard to write a review of a really funny immersive game when it is at the same time messed up in the Ui and splitrelease department. Well I give it 2 stars and 5 stars at the same time, can I do that. Thanks Dave!

  • cloud9

    Puzzle Quest is a unique puzzle game for the iPhone because it combines a familiar match the color puzzle with deeper, story driven RPG elements. The only other game I tried that combines puzzle with RPG is Magic Words Arcanum.

  • BadYeti

    Version 1.2 came out today. Does anyone have any idea what changes they implemented?

  • BadYeti

    I’m definitely onboard with this port now that TransGaming has released this second update, and have announced that the second component will be free.

    Version 1.2 clears up the text a bit further and seems to be a bit more responsive.

    There’s still no way to view status effects or enemy equipment, gold, etc. But other than that, it’s becoming a pretty nice port.

  • Brian

    I’m on board with the $7.99 price and the second chapter being free.

    There are icons under your oppononents icon that show status effects. I’m a Rouge and only level 11, so I’ve only seen the poison and disease icons.

    But I think it’s a pretty good game, I’ve never played it on another platform but I am enjoying it more than any other game on my iPod.

  • BadYeti

    Yeah, there are the icons that show there is some status effect in play.

    But you can’t tap on them to bring up their details (i.e. how much mana regen, damage/round, healing/round, et cetera are those effects enacting and for how many more rounds). Neither is there any way to see the enemy’s equipment to help you figure out why you’re taking 15 damage instead of 3 damage every time the enemy connects three skulls.

    Both of those are features/screens available on the other platforms. They just forgot to add it to the iPhone version.

  • BadYeti

    Latest version finally allows players to access the status effect/attribute window!