The simple combination of Bejeweled and the frame of a traditional role-playing game made Puzzle Quest: Challenge Of The Warlords a hugely addictive success. But when the developers decided to make things more complex by adding different versions of the match-three system for Puzzle Quest: Galactrix, the results were mixed, producing a game that fixes some of the flaws of the original while introducing some new ones.
Rather than choosing from several fantasy classes, Galactrix starts players as a psychic spaceship pilot embroiled in the hunt to stop escaped biological experiments from destroying the world. You soon pick up a full crew who unlock different mini-games you can play to craft items, haggle for lower prices, and open leapgates, which take you to different solar systems. But not all the games are created equal. Players who like thinking fast and looking for moves two steps ahead are sure to enjoy matching tiles on a timer, but other variations seem to be based more on the randomly generated starting board than your skill. Luckily, there’s no penalty for failure besides the loss of time.
The long load screens and poor graphics are also disappointing. You’ll occasionally have random encounters with enemy vessels, but they’ll just look like colored triangles.
Galactrix does shine when it comes to the variety of resources, weapons, and ships you’ll find while fighting your way across the world. Each space station will pay different prices to buy items, so you’ll want to dart around looking for the best deals, while also saving enough materials to construct things for yourself.
Each ship comes with a shield that must be worn down before you can do real damage to another vessel, making combats run long. This equation favors players, since chasing the plot will pit you against enemies who dramatically out-level you, and extended fights provide more ways for tactics to even the field.
Beyond the game: Infinite Interactive’s next release, Puzzle Kingdoms, is due out in April.
Worth playing for: The chance to match-three your way across an enormous galaxy.
Frustration sets in when: A wrong move with the stylus costs you a turn and some health.
Final judgment: Galactrix reaches for the stars, but isn’t as stellar as its predecessor.