June 29, 2016

Puzzle Galaxies

Tags: A Gamedev Plays

This post is from the now defunct website “A GameDev Plays…”, copied here for posterity

Puzzle Galaxies is, unsurprisingly, a simple puzzle game. It is moderately entertaining and kept me playing for an hour, despite an unpolished feel. Considering the very low cost (US$0.99, or even less when bundled) there is definitely value for money. It is a decent, but unspectacular game.

The basic gameplay is matching together jewels into sets of four. When all the jewels on a level have been matched the level is complete and onto the next one (68 in total). The difficulty comes from a timer giving the player a few minutes or less to complete the level, and “aliens” which steal jewels from uncompleted sets and move them around.

The game starts easy

The game is not hard and quickly mastered. Soon after starting failure only came as the result of distraction - most levels being completed well within the time limit. The gameplay is enjoyable and there is just enough challenge to motivate a player to “just see what the next level looks like”. Unfortunately the next level normally looks extremely similar to the previous level - perhaps with an extra alien or slightly more jewels. The game does become a little repetitive. I used the same tactics from start to finish: first prioritise getting a few easy sets completed, (this reduces the search for the required jewels later); then build up some close sets across the level, focusing on areas away from the aliens; finally, slowly sets will be completed until the last few are trivial.

As for negatives, this game is noticeably unpolished. It can’t obviously be played in windowed mode (the developer has posted an obscure workaround, but this is something most games have as an options setting). Buttons sometimes can’t be clicked without any indication they have become inactive. The game also makes the player wait. This feels like a fast game, each level is quite short, so the game should move the player quickly forward. However, loading screens, score screens, all take some time. I prefer something faster for a timed, quick puzzle game. If the game started the next level within seconds of finishing the previous level I probably would have gone deeper into the game just through inertia: “oh the next level has started, I guess I’ll just give it a quick try”. Instead the frequent pauses gave me time to think about other things I could/should be doing.

Arrange those jewels!

The theme is very lightly applied. Each level is supposed to be another galaxy, the aliens look like little space ships and the background image is space. That’s it as far as the space setting. The basic gameplay has nothing to do with space, it is really just a tile-matching game. It would take little to re-skin it as goblins stealing jewels from treasure chests, or computer viruses corrupting programs in memory. Using a space theme has not added anything to the game.

Puzzle Galaxies is out on Steam now for US$0.99 or local equivalent (Steam store page and my Steam review). It has been bundled at least twice.

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