A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a simple Bejeweled-style puzzle game with the unusual quirk of having been spread over a fantasy role-playing game framework. In other words, players alternate between reading lots of text about a fantasy kingdom in peril and playing puzzle games against Artificial Intelligence (AI) opponents. It is free of coarse language, lewd themes, antisocial behavior, and violence (save the occasional vague reference to fighting in text dialogue). Note, however, that the Xbox 360 edition offers the option to play online. Common Sense Media does not recommend online play for kids under age 12.
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What's it about?
PUZZLE QUEST: CHALLENGE OF THE WARLORDS is a reworking of the popular PC puzzler Bejeweled, with the added (and unusual) twist of being draped over a role-playing game framework. Here's how it works: Each puzzle in the game represents a fight against a rat, troll, zombie, or some other nefarious beast. Both you and your foe have a set number of hit points that decreases each time three skull pieces are cleared from the board. Other icons on the board have value as well, such colored spheres, which symbolize magic used to cast spells against foes. Upon completing a puzzle/battle, players earn money and experience and can level up their characters or buy new items to assist in future battles.
Is it any good?
The aim of this unique game is to provide purpose to the otherwise monotonous experience of stringing together three similar icons to make them disappear, over and over again, puzzle after puzzle. And while it takes a bit of imagination to get used to the idea of puzzles supplanting battles, the role-playing shtick does provide a kind of contextual framework and grander objective to puzzle-solving that's missing from just about every other game in the genre. You'll likely find yourself propelled from one puzzle to the next not just because the puzzles are fun (which they are), but also because you feel that recognizable RPG itch to keep playing just a little longer until you level up your character one more time.
And it's a good thing that added incentive exists; Puzzle Quest offers dozens of hours worth of puzzle-solving, which, even with a moderately engaging story to help drive things along, can make things a bit repetitive.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how well or badly they think the genres of puzzle games and fantasy role-playing games complement each other. Do you enjoy engaging enemies by challenging them in puzzles as opposed to fighting them with weapons and magic? Did the fantasy story hold your attention and make you eager to play more puzzles? Or do you prefer playing puzzle games that don't offer any sort of narrative?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.