Puzzle Quest: Galactrix
I am a huge Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords fan. I have owned the DS version multiple times, and I even bought it on XBLA. This should really come as no surprise as I have mentioned my love of this game on the site before, but I feel like it needs to be repeated in light of this review. After all, I was looking forward to Puzzle Quest: Galactrix so much I listed it in our article Day One Purchases of 2009. I was convinced the new design and Sci-Fi feel of the story could do nothing but improve on what was already one of the best games on Nintendo’s handheld.
Turns out I was wrong.
The Puzzles – Not the same old game:
One of the best ideas D3 Publishers had when it designed Galactrix was the redesigned puzzle board. The rounded shape shape of the board changes the gameplay quite a bit. Now puzzle pieces can come in from different sides based upon which piece you moved in what direction. This adds a new strategic element to the game as opposed to something that feels just like the previous game.
The new game board and overall scope of the game are impressive.
The Customization – You can really change up your ships:
Between the different ships you can acquire and the various technologies with which you can outfit them, you can really customize how you approach the game. You can also have as many ships as you have crew members, so you can have different ships for different purposes. For example, I had a shuttle for mining because of the cargo space, and I had an MRI Psionic Array for battle as it is a better warship and has more slots for weapons/equipment.
The Scope – This is one big game:
Just one look at the galaxy map and you know this is going to be one long game, probably longer than the original. You also have several factions you are trying to balance against each other, and the quests you choose to complete along with whom you choose to sell minerals you acquire throughout the game affect your sanding with these factions. You cannot say this game is a ripoff based on the amount of content.
Your Hero – What happened to the customization?:
As customizable as Galactrix is, there is one area the game fell short. In the original Puzzle Quest, you wanted to play it more than once because you had multiple heroes you could choose to in the beginning. Each hero type had different things he or she was good at doing, making each playthru feel a little different. Galactrix, on the other hand, only lets you choose whether or not your hero is male or female, with no real difference between the two. Rather disappointing, actually.
The Story – Wait, what am I trying to do again?:
As simplistic and clichÃ©d as the story was in the original Puzzle Quest, it at least had one. From the very beginning, you knew you were fighting to keep Lord Bane from trying to once again gain control of the world. I played Galactrix for hours and still had no real clue as to what was going on. Toward the end of the time I was playing it, I got a sense of some bio-engineered weapon I was going to have to track down, but that really didn’t tell me much. I began to lose interest in what was going on, something that never really happened in the original.
Despite it’s attempts to improve the gameplay, Galactrix just does not live up to the original Puzzle Quest.
Loading Times – Are you kidding me?:
Loading times on a DS game? Seriously? That makes no sense. The whole point to having a cartridge based system is to avoid load times. Sure, it’s only 2 or 3 seconds long, but this is a portable system designed to let me jump in and out of playing quickly. Constant 2 to 3 sec load times kind of break that up.
Secondary Puzzles – Maybe the hex board wasn’t the best of ideas:
One of the original’s strengths was the different styles of puzzles you faced throughout the game. When you went to capture a mount, you had to make all the pieces on the board disappear by matching them in the right order. When you learned a spell, you had to get a certain number of scrolls, which appeared when you matched four or more of a color together. Galactrix tries to bring this gameplay element back with the mining of asteroids, hacking of leap gates, haggling and crafting items. The leap gate hacking works, making you match a certain number of tiles in a certain order within a certain time period to open the gate. The haggling, crafting and mining…not so much. Haggling is easy enough as long as you work from the outside edges in, but mining feels completely random, and crafting just does not work as well as learning spells. No matter how carefully I tried to make sure not to get too many unusable hexes, it seemed a matter of pure luck to get enough of each material you are trying to mine to get the bonuses. I can’t decide if this frustration stems from the issues with designing puzzles like this on the new board or just from poor design, but either way I do not like it.
Puzzle Quest: Galactrix is not a bad game, despite my objections. It’s not really a good one, either, Maybe if I did not like the first one so much, my view of this game would be different, but I find it hard not to take the original into account when doing this review. The verdict: rent this one first before you buy, or better yet get a hold of the original. I sure enjoyed it much more.