Puzzle Quest: The Legend Returns – Nintendo Switch Review

Genre: Adventure, Multiplayer, Role-Playing, Puzzle
Developer: Infinite Interactive
Publisher
: D3 Go!
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 9/19/2019
Edited by Thorstag

Back in the year 2007, Bejeweled was at the height of its popularity. Many companies cloned the formula in an attempt to capitalize on the cravings of the general public to match three brightly colored gems and make them explode into shining and shimmering dust. One such company was D3 GO. They released a match 3 RPG hybrid called Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords, which was met with both critical and commercial success. This game even spawned a long-running series of Puzzle Quest games, which eventually included a Marvel Comics licensed spin-off. The most recent of these games brings us back to the roots of the series. Puzzle Quest: The Legend Returns is a glorious HD remastering of the original game that started it all, including the previously released expansion and an all-new questline containing 100 new quests as well as new starting classes.

The formula is simple — match three gems to clear them from the board. Colored gems give you mana, which is used to cast spells, special abilities that can do everything from clearing all of one color to returning some of your life points. Mana gems aren’t the only things on the board though, purple stars are how you gain experience, and matching gold makes you more wealthy. The final item that can appear on the board is the dreaded skull — matching three of these deals damage to the opponent. Some skulls can appear that are upgraded. These skulls deal more damage and explode when cleared, wiping out all the gems around them. As you explore the expansive map, you will inevitably be faced with some sort of traditional RPG monsters like a skeleton, giant rat, or even a wood golem. These fights boil down to you, taking turns with the AI to make matches, fill your mana reserves, cast spells, and deal damage to each other. Win or lose, you still keep any experience and gold you manage to match up during the battle, so even the most crushing of defeats move you another step closer to that next level or piece of shiny new equipment.

Speaking of equipment, each piece offers you unique passives, allowing you to make up for your weaknesses or bolster your strengths. Some examples include a staff that gives you one green mana when you cast a spell and a crown that gives you gold when you match yellow gems. You can gain new equipment in a number of ways, completing quests, buying it from shops, or even forging it yourself in your keep. Throughout the game, you will find and capture new cities, upgrading them with many fancy structures. Dungeons allow you to capture monsters to ride into battle or learn spells from. These upgrades are pricy, though, so you won’t be getting some of them for a while.

Battle isn’t the only time you’ll be matching gems, capturing monsters requires you to clear a board completely, making the correct moves to wipe out every last gem. Researching spells and forging equipment each have a different sort of puzzle where you try to reach a target number of gems cleared. Everything is handled through matching gems, which could either be a blessing or a curse depending on how much you enjoy match-three games.

As a result of the match-three formula, leveling is based on a combination of luck and skill. Winning battles gives you a flat amount of experience; however, it’s a minor amount. Most of your experience is collected during fights or by clearing quests. This makes later levels increasingly more difficult to reach. This is compounded by the fact that if you are matching stars, you aren’t gaining mana or dealing damage, making fights drag out even longer. The same situation applies to gold, making progression feel like a grind. Some of the capture puzzles can be tricky, and learning some spells may take several attempts. It all boils down to individual skill with the match-three formula.

The remastered visuals and music are beautiful and help to capture the fantasy world they depict. Sound is basic but does not feel out of place. The game performs well enough on the switch hardware. There are sometimes minor slowdowns or delays when making large cascades, but this does not hamper the enjoyment of the game.

Pros:

  • Beautiful art
  • Many strategic options
  • Tons of quests
  • Tons of match 3 puzzles

Take it or leave it:

  • Match 3 battle style

Cons:

  • Basic sound design
  • Minor slowdown and delays
  • Slow progression

GlitchedVision gives Puzzle Quest: The Legend Returns a Drastic Measure of 8.6, (86)

The game is enjoyable in short bursts, but trying to grind through leveling and capturing monsters can feel like a chore. I often come back for a quick battle with a local creature, or to try one more time to learn the next spell, always finding myself having enjoyed the attempt. You can find Puzzle Quest: The Legend Returns on the Nintendo Switch site for $14.99.