The elements that make up role playing and puzzle games are fundamentally opposite.‚ In one corner lies a character embarking on an epic multi-hour journey through a vast content rich environment, and in the other the player matches similarly colored objects on a virtual game board.‚ The day these two genres fused together seemed as likely as the day Halo would be released on the PS3.
However, in 2007, a little game called Puzzle Quest was released and blew the collective minds of gamers everywhere.‚ Genres? Who needs genres? Not developer Infinite Interactive, that’s for sure.‚ Puzzle Quest sent the player on a heroic pursuit of enemies, annihilating them with the puzzle-game mechanic.‚ It sounds far-fetched, but the formula translates into a truly unique gaming experience, one that was well received by critics almost everywhere.
Feb. 24, 2009
Galactrix utilizes the same winning formula from the original, but this time war is waged in the far reaches of space with the puzzle component played on a new zero gravity board featuring hexagonal gems.‚ Rewards and upgrades come from successfully completing a number of brand new mini-games and ultimately to upgrade your galactic cruiser or unlock the most difficult leapgate, you must hone your skills and be calm under fire.
The narrative in Galactrix is surprisingly deep and compelling given the lack of spoken dialogue or sets of detailed cut-scenes.‚ Galactrix begins with black screen and a slow scrolling collection of dialogue, ominously setting the story of events to come. ‚ The story in a nut-shell of Galactrix is that a horrific scientific accident has aggravated an alien race to the point where extermination of humankind is the only solution.‚ As events come to fruition and the drama is high, you may never skip a dialogue scene and find yourself with compassion for certain characters and contempt for others.
However, as resilient as the storytelling in Galactrix is, it pales in comparison to the foundation of game-play, the match-three formula of Bejeweled that succeeds on so many levels.‚ In no way would I call myself a hardened puzzle-game fan and that was no problem in Galactrix because the early battles and mini-games tailored to my novice needs.‚ A very helpful tutorial system can be toggled on or off (always on for me) and during the puzzle sequences, the piece that will help you most to move will glimmer until you recognize it.
The game board is now hexagonal and adds that extra layer of strategy for those who desire it, or a headache for those who thought the original was difficult enough.‚ When battling an opponent matching blue pieces will replenish shields.‚ Red, yellow, or green will grant your ship the very necessary energy component used to execute special upgradeable subsystem attacks.‚ And finally, matching three or more mines, each with their own specific value, will deal damage to your opponents ship.‚ Throughout Galactrix you will be able to upgrade your ships defensive and offensive capabilities.‚ Certain attacks will cost you specific color energy but will deal direct damage to the enemy ship.‚ Furthermore every subsystem upgrade has specific advantages and the player must make sure the most effective attacks are unleashed at the right moments, if you desire to slay the enemy pirate scum that are terrorizing the universe.‚ Battling takes great patience and knowing when to utilize the replenishing ‘shield restore’ or the assertive ‘mine field’ attack is an art that takes time to master.