I haven't done these review blogs before, so we'll see if I remember to update regularly.
Anyway, the story was a brief scroll of some hidden threat living in the mountains, or something like that. I forgot about it really fast. Then I chose my character type and went with magician. The first part of the game is a strictly regimented series of fights against a bunch of rats and goblins that have attacked The Town (it has a name, but since that name is forgettable, I'm just calling it an archetype). After getting through the carefully choreographed opening battles, I get to wander around the frozen landscape in search of more things to kill and be beaten by.
I never played any version of Puzzle Quest before this, so it took me a few fights to get the idea, but I know what I'm doing by now. For anyone reading this who hasn't experienced Puzzle Quest, it's pretty much exactly what an RPG-puzzle hybrid sounds like. Match three colors to eliminate them from the board and bring new pieces falling down from the top of the screen, with multiple matches in one move netting big bonuses. Yellow, green, blue, and red puzzle pieces are the major components, and matching each of these increases the stash of that element in your arsenal, with spells being dependent upon having enough. There are also skulls, which hurt your enemy when they get matched, plus physical icons, which are needed to use weapons.
So the combat is reasonably entertaining, though I have to wonder why I gain levels when the enemies are always the same level (unless that's going to change in the future). Playing a somewhat different puzzle game to obtain rewards from treasure chests and open doors seems excessive, since I'm getting plenty of action through fighting actual enemies. It's nice of the game to automatically save after everything I do, at least, and getting something even when I lose to the jerk goblins and rats is nice. I find it odd that I beat three polar bears into the dirt without trouble while rats beat me twice before I finally won. A lot of that came down to luck, which the computer seems to get quite a bit. Four in a row instead of three in a row gets an extra turn for whoever pulled it off, and somehow the AI gets those a lot.
Too early yet to make any firm determinations. I'm not even trying to do more than ramble about a number of things I've noticed, which has been a success.
Completed a couple of optional quests, killed more goblins and rats in my path, then ran into another optional quest in the form of a zombie with a brain eating special that replenishes its HP. Jerk. I spent ten minutes fighting it and lost, so after the game automatically saved I set it aside for a little while. That's our update for this session, zombies eating brains = bad.
Now then, I've returned to Puzzle Quest after an extended Dragon Quest session. Naturally, the zombie that gave me grief last time has fallen. The randomness still vexes me from time to time, but I'm getting better at hoarding my gem and physical resources for a little while, then blasting the AI hard until it goes down. Mage Strike and Flame Bolts are my current spell workhorses although I just got one I don't remember the name of that blasts purple gems and everything surrounding them hard. Other than that, my mage (I named him Saruman, I was in a LotR mood) does the job pretty well.
Anything new... not really. I spent a long time beating up orcs and goblins and wolves on the second floor of The Dungeon, and have just beaten up the Orc king who was apparently guarding the entrance to the next floor, where some evil thing lives that I'll have to face in puzzle combat. Chasm, the spell that zaps purple gems in a + pattern and grants me the proceeds, is pretty darn useful. It's starting to feel pretty monotonous though. I've beaten up facsimiles of the same adversaries multiple times, and every time I see one in a corridor it's time to fight some more. The puzzle combat is a little different when not fighting an actual opponent, but having to go through it for opening doors, undoing traps, and taking the contents of treasure chests is just excessive.
I had reached the fourth floor (the Dark Dwarf laboratory, I believe it's named) and was burnt-out for awhile, thus the break in reporting. My latest accomplishment was beating a Green Dragon, which would have been more amusing if it actually used the apparently powerful moves at its disposal more than once every ten turns. The break of several days did make things a little more appealing, but I'm still tired of doing the same thing with no letup. I was ready to be done with this game long ago, but it just keeps going... Not the way to make me love you, Puzzle Quest 2.
Well, that's great. I'm in the Arena now, after an actual plot development (don't get excited, plot developments consist of three or four lines explaining what's going on now and a couple lines from the NPCs tagging along). I have reached level 50, and suddenly my experience gauge is permanently full. I'm forced to assume this means level 50 is the max, and even though I keep getting experience from fights, it's now pointless.
The fights take longer than I would ever want to spend lately, because of how defense works. Instead of defense outright reducing the damage attacks deal, higher defense increases the chance of that damage being cut in half. Enemies with high defense will usually have my good attacks do half the damage they're supposed to, and when their HP totals are high, it takes a long time to beat them down. Plus, the defense activation is lag-ridden, which makes no sense on the DS, but there it is. Animations in combat are lag-ridden in general, and I just get sick of waiting for the chance to make my next move. Time to stop focusing on this game for awhile, I need something awesome to pump my spirits back up.
The Gorgon's Cathedral is complete, and the Gorgon is toast. I have been planted back at the beginning of the game after a really tired bit about how evil never goes away entirely, and thus the game has been completed.