Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hero’s Puzzle Path Review

Hero’s Puzzle Path, developed and published by KATWorks Games.
The Good: Unique gameplay, decent controls and a useful interface, neat alternate game types, good tutorial
The Not So Good: Restricted strategic options can get repetitive, no multiplayer
What say you? An speedy and original puzzle game: 6/8

You can tell it’s the time of the year when not many games by big publishers are being released because I’m catching up on my puzzle game reviews. And I’d better do those mainstream games first or I might get fired. Ah, the joys of running your own site with no ads. Anyway, it takes some thought these days to create a unique puzzle game. There are countless “match 3” or “click” games sprouting all over the Internet, so it’s nice to see a title that takes an original approach to the genre. That brings us to Hero’s Puzzle Path, a puzzle game (it’s in the title, after all) where you must match adjacent colored blocks to send spells and destroy an enemy. Will Hero’s Puzzle Path bring some distinctive mechanics to the table?

Hero’s Puzzle Path is a completely 2-D game, but the relatively simple graphics work well for the title. You can clearly spot the paths and block colors with no trouble, something that might have been an issue if Hero’s Puzzle Path was in 3-D. The helpful interface also highlights connected tiles, making gameplay easier. Plus, I really like the Hero’s avatar. The effects are decent though not varied; overall the game looks decent for a 2-D puzzle game as it features clean graphics. The sound is typical for the genre: slightly repetitive effects and enjoyable background music. Overall, the presentation of Hero’s Puzzle Path is good enough for me and doesn’t hinder the gameplay.

Hero’s Puzzle Path is a puzzle game where you must match adjacent colored blocks to send spells and destroy an enemy (copy and paste is a wonderful thing). The standard game features 70 levels against the AI, but Hero’s Puzzle Path also features some additional modes of play: fifteen levels of Battlefield-like dominate where you must own squares scattered around the board, a Tetris-like building mode which involves placing randomly dropped pieces to create a working path, and frenzy mode with a random board and strong enemies. These are nice variations upon the basic game and should keep you busy for a while and the amount of content is appreciated. It’s sad, then, that Hero’s Puzzle Path lacks multiplayer, since the game modes are really designed for it. It should also be noted that selecting a particular level on the main menu requires you scroll numerically through all the levels: this gets annoying.

In order to create a correct sequence of tiles, you must have adjacent tiles of different blocks be of the same color (like this). You do this by using three spells: flip (which reverses the colors left to right), change (which changes the colors), and destroy (which, uh, destroys a tile). Once you select a tile using the mouse, you simply click the appropriate spell icon (or use the keyboard shortcut) and it flies down the path. Hero’s Puzzle Path does a good job showing “completed” paths with a beam of light; this makes finding errors easy. Spells use energy, so you cannot spam spells ad nauseum. You can, however, send spells in quick succession, and you must to this on the more difficult later levels. The enemy AI will also be sending spells your way (the frequency of which is determined by the difficulty level) so you’ll have to counteract their spells while worrying about your strategy.

Hero’s Puzzle Path is a fast game that keeps the action moving. The straightforward rules help to make the title accessible to a large audience. Having only three spell options does become somewhat of a problem after long play sessions, as the levels become repetitive. Still, the unique and simplified mechanics of Hero’s Puzzle Path are enjoyable. While I can envision intense multiplayer matches, the AI does a good enough job at being a decent competitor, especially at the higher difficulty levels. Overall, Hero’s Puzzle Path excels as a satisfying title that’s a couple of small features away from being completely fulfilling.

Hero’s Puzzle Path satisfies the aim of every puzzle game: easy to learn, hard to master. Not just another “match 3” or “Tetris” clone, Hero’s Puzzle Path features unique gameplay that offers up some interesting real-time strategy action for the puzzle genre. Anyone can learn the mechanics in a matter of seconds, and the interface is well-designed and promotes the quick pace of the game. Hero’s Puzzle Path is simply an interesting game to play and the result is a rewarding experience. If Hero’s Puzzle Path came with multiplayer and more spell options, the appeal would be even broader. Hero’s Puzzle Path is a good marriage between a classic puzzle game and a fast-paced strategy game: fans of either genre should have a good time with Hero’s Puzzle Path.