Mike Bowden checks out Puzzle Quest Galactrix for the Xbox Live Arcade
I generally dislike puzzle games. I find them irritating. I like atmosphere. I like story. I like there to be some kind of purpose to my gameplay, other than just to complete something “because I can.” Puzzle games should be on the DS and reserved for casuals on the train before work at 7 am, not the hardcore gamer like me who likes shooting lasers from eyes and generally blowing stuff up. I just knew D3’s Puzzle Quest: Galactrix was going to be more of the same. That is, I knew all this before I’d actually sat down and played it, that is. As after a quick hour turned into 3 am, I soon realized that this was a game tailor made for someone like me.
D3 must have bugged my apartment or something as every rant I’ve ever had; every criticism I’ve ever leveled at the genre seems to have been taken into consideration. It really is a very neat set-up indeed. You see, you’re a rookie pilot for the MRI - The Multinational Resource & Investment Group - flying through the galaxy trying to get to the bottom of some dastardly plot to obliterate the universe as we know it! (may be an exaggeration)
This shows only a fraction of the total universe. It’s huge!
The presentation is very good, too.
There’s plenty to do as you travel from planet to planet and star system to star system. You can mine for different types of minerals and tech that can either be sold at the various space stations for profit or actually used to craft new weapons for your ship. It’s like a kind of Bejeweled/Elite hybrid but instead of engaging in realtime combat, you’re pushing blocks around a board trying to outwit your opponent.
The universe is massive. There must be over 25 planets all containing various side missions and different things to discover and do with the puzzling becoming increasingly difficult at each turn. The thing is, you want to progress, you want to get to the next location and see what’s in store. The desire to try out a new weapon in battle just consumes you and before you know it, the birds will be singing outside the window and you’ll hear the milk-cart driving around. It has the same moreishness as SI Games’ Football Manager: the “just one more go” effect that could easily ruin your social life if you’re not careful.
Another area where the game deserves serious praise is the soundtrack. Whilst you’re plotting away, wondering if you should bolster your shields by matching up the blue hexagons or perhaps collecting the red, and thus making sure you don’t run out of firepower, there’s a rather excellent Sci-Fi soundtrack in the background. I know I’m name-dropping for England at the moment but it’s very Mass Effect-esque - that means it’s very good indeed.
A puzzle game with a plot. Who’d’ve thunk it?!
Check out the ship design. Very nice.
In fact, I’m finding Puzzle Quest rather difficult to criticize. If I’m pushed, I’d say that the game throws you in at the deep end: it doesn’t lead you by the hand enough at the start meaning that it’s quite difficult to work out what’s going on. Also, the game is very stringent on the Achievements. This actually adds to the problem of not knowing what you’re doing. Achievements are a great way to encourage you to carry on playing as though the game itself is telling you you’re doing something right, thus giving the player the confidence to carry on. However, I’ve played it for around 10-12 hours and have unlocked about three.
Top Gaming moment: Defeating the first Lost Soul.
PUZZLE QUEST GALACTRIX VERDICT
Still, the aforementioned niggles are just a minor affair, and as long as you haven’t smoked yourself into a stupor I’m sure the teething issues won’t irritate for too long. You really must try Puzzle Quest: Galactrix as it is one of the best games I’ve played all year. It really is that good. However, whether it is 1600 MS Points good is the real issue isn’t it? I’ve been a harsh critic of some of the pricing in the past (see R-Type review) but in this case I’d say it’s justified. The game is huge, it’s huge and sexy. I’ve spent hours and hours in its company and am a fraction through the main game. Do yourself a favor and check it out. You seriously won’t regret it.