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It's no office secret that I play a lot of match-three games. I certainly go through my share of so-called hardcore games, but puzzle games are what I reach for when I only have a few minutes to play. My latest obsession combines my love for catching and matching 'em all.
GungHo's Puzzle & Dragons takes the already addicting gameplay of a match-three title and adds a monster-collecting component. The game, which is available for both Android and iOS, does several things incredibly well. First, it changes up the way you interact with the playfield. In most of these puzzle games, you select a gem as an anchor of sorts, and then switch its position with a neighbor. Match enough of the same colors in a move, and they disappear. Simple stuff. Puzzle & Dragons allows you to grab a gem (or orb) and then move it freely around the board. It's a simple change, but it fundamentally tweaks the strategies and patterns you may have grown accustomed to.
The trailer below does a good job of explaining how it works.
The "dragons" part of the title is equally important. You have a roster of dragons and other critters, some of which have special attacks and skills. One type of special attack is activated by the player, and has a cooldown timer. These include spells that heal, change the color of orbs on the board, or mitigate damage. You also select a leader, which ideally has a special passive leader ability. Some, like the Siren's ability to heal with each successful match, are invaluable.
Once you assemble your team, you delve into a variety of dungeons and fight monsters. Each of your creatures is divided into an elemental type, and they deal damage when orbs of their colors are matched. It's simple on the surface, but there's a lot of depth to it. You can level up and evolve your monsters by feeding them other creatures. You can also enlist help from other players' leader characters. If you friend those players, their monster's leadership abilities are activated. You also earn points when people use your leader, which can be used to earn random creatures from a capsule machine. Assembling an effective team is almost a game in and of itself, and if you're a player who likes min-maxing you'll have your hands full.
It's free to play, and while there are certainly opportunities to drop some cash on the game, it's far from necessary. Unlike a lot of the match-three games I like to play, this one rewards a fair amount of time commitment. It's definitely a nice change of pace from something like Bejeweled. If you liked the RPG elements that Puzzle Quest and 10000000 have injected into the genre, give Puzzle & Dragons a shot.
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