Years ago I heard rave reviews about a game called Puzzle Quest which took a popular trend of color matching puzzle games and used it as a guide for role-playing fantasy combat. I passed on the game back then, opting for distractions to which I might devote longer sessions–such as first person shooters and strategy games. Y’know, respectable games. Now that I have less time for long sit-downs and own a mobile phone that doubles as a Puzzle Quest platform, I finally gave it a chance.

Marvel Puzzle Quest plays like Bejeweled or Candy Crush with, as least in comparison, the more adult and manly overlay of comic book characters. The initial story, and until a recent update the only story, is that of Marvel’s Dark Reign in which Norman Osborn takes over SHIELD. I would never recommend text boxes inbetween puzzles as the preferable way to consume a major Marvel crossover, but , hey, it’s better than nothing.

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Playing through either the story or match battles with other player’s teams will earn you ISO and Hero Points, which are used to level up and recruit new members. You equip three team members for every fight along with optional team-ups with other heroes and villains. I generally use Iron Man, Black Widow and Falcon; your results will vary. Additional ISO and/or Hero Points may be bought to move your team along the path of this otherwise free game. I won’t lie to you, it’s not easy to get very far without buying a little something something, but I’ve gotten my $3.99’s worth. In fact, I’ve had longer sessions playing a puzzle game than I would have ever expected. Some say too long…

The hits scored against your opponent’s team by matching tiles quickly becomes secondary to the goal of matching specific tiles to charge up  your characters’ powers. For instance, matching tiles may deal 30 to 80 damage on average while matching 10 red tiles allows you to use Iron Man’s repulsor blast which deals 600 damage. The strategy really comes in when you have powers available that passively do damage over time, heal your heroes, or take away your opponent’s turns. The defensive game adds another level of strategy in keeping your opponent from matching the tiles they need in order to charge their powers. Marvel Puzzle Quest is a puzzler wrapped in a role-playing game wrapped in a comic book–a turducken of a time sink.

If you play, look me up. My handle is Calcos. We can form an ESO Alliance and give each other a collective power boost…or something.

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