After a few months of exclusivity on the PC and the DS, Puzzle Quest: Galactrix has finally made its way onto the PSN. It is a welcome sight, to be sure, especially considering the lack of any sort of release on the network in the last few weeks. And it also doesn’t hurt that PQG is going to end up being one of the higher quality releases on the PSN this year. The package certainly isn’t perfect, however.
This new version of Puzzle Quest does do a number of things to make changes from its predecessors. The problem is that most of the changes feel just like that: changes. They aren’t necessarily better, they are just different. The story and location, for instance, is all Sci-Fi futuristic, and the battle is between ships instead of between Warriors and Wizards and other nerd faire like that. This is purely aesthetic though, as the +5 laser missile does the same thing as the +5 fire ball. One change that does affect the gameplay is the shape of the board. Gone is the typical Bejeweled style square and in its place is a hexagonal shaped board that seems to cause more problems than it does bring excitement.
The number one problem is that there is now a lot more pieces on the “edge” of the viewable surface, which means there are that many more pieces just off the edge waiting to get in… and since you can’t see those, you can’t strategize around them, and it ends up making a lot of the Bejeweled styled battles a lot more luck than skill. Puzzle Quest (and Bejeweled for that matter) always counted on a bit of luck but this new board design only adds to that.
The RPG elements of the game have been fleshed out a bit. There are now faction tabs, the bane of any MMO player. But factions do give you some strategic decisions as you make your way through this massive story. You also gain some skills from the members of your party, much like the first Puzzle Quest. The universe is multi-branched, letting you explore quite a bit if you are up for it, but the story itself keeps you on a pretty straight line.
There are a few new additions to the gameplay. Namely mining and hacking. The easiest way to explain either of these modes is that they basically mirror the puzzle mode found in Bejeweled 2. They are a nice diversion from the typical player versus player battles battles that the game throws at you, and the addition of mining in particular also adds to the RPG part of the game by letting you gather materials to either sell or turn into new skills. It’s definitely a welcome addition to the series.
In the end, Puzzle Quest: Galactrix is as good as any of us hoped it would be, but it’s certainly not much more. In fact, I found the story of the first to be a bit more engaging than this one. But even though the additions are hit and miss, none of them miss so badly that they ruin the experience. What you end up with, for a fairly pricey $20, is a very long and deep game that will give you 10s and 10s of hours of puzzle/RPG excitement. There is also offline and online multiplayer, which is a nice touch, though it’s not the most exciting stuff in the world. And, I must say, I have had a bit of trouble finding folks to play online. I’m not sure if the problem is on my end, or the servers… or if there is just no one trying to play online. But thus far, I haven’t had any luck there.
The computer still cheats as always, and like I said, it comes in at a pricey $20… but unlike Watchmen, it offers tons and tons of gameplay. If you liked the first you will like this one, if you hated the first this version isn’t going to blow your mind. But as far as I’m concerned PQG is an incredibly solid PSN download. I’m just not convinced that it’s any better than the first.