Hmmm… I seem to be farming again. I also seem to be the King of the land. Puzzle Craft lets you be both the King and the Farmer. Let’s take a closer look.
Puzzle Craft begins with the ending. It shows a large, bustling kingdom and tells you that you created it all. In the beginning it was all just a small settlement and you made it into something amazing. With that the game moves into its home screen where you start with only a small town hall, a farm field, and a mine. Here your greatness-to-be begins.
Controls and Gameplay
The version of Puzzle Craft I have been playing is on IOS, so the interface is completely touch based. I have not played the Windows 8 version (currently available in Europe only), but would logically assume that it is both touch based and point and click. Puzzle Craft boils down to two gameplay elements; a match three game and a city building game. Both gameplay elements support each other to take the game to higher levels.
The match three games are played out in two places, the farm field and the mine. In the farm field you harvest food resources for your people such as; grain, carrots, chickens, apples, cows, etc. You also harvest some minor resources for city building such as lumber and hay. Then in the mine you dig out city building resources such as; stone, iron, coal, gold, etc. But you can only access the mine once you've gathered enough food resources from the farm.
The way you get these resources is to match at least three of the same resource (up, down, left, right, or diagonal) with a swipe of your finger. In the farm field you have a limited number of days to harvest during a play session and each session costs you 30 coins. You can increase the amount of days you have by building special buildings with the resources you gather from the mine. The same situation exists for the mine. You have a limited amount of time depending on how much food you have allocated. This too can be increased with other specialized buildings. You can also hire special workers and create tools to help increase the amount of resources present, as well decrease the amount needed to make special items appear.
The city building elements as I said depend on the resources you farm and mine, but also your experience level and in some cases how much money you are willing to spend. This is where your town hall comes into play. Every few hours it generates money from taxes. As you level up, you increase the amount you earn through the town hall. You can then use this money to buy buildings, tools or resources (if you are short).
Graphics and Sound
Puzzle Craft is very light hearted game and this is reflected in the graphics and sound. The graphics are cell shaded, simple and cartoon-like. While the sound keeps things minimal and simple. A light happy tune plays while you are on the main map. When you interact with buildings there are quick ding sounds. When you hire people to work in your city they briefly appear at the bottom of the screen and sound out a long, “Oh, heeelllooo.” When you are collecting in the farm field the music is silent, but there is a slight wind in the background and each resource has a corresponding sound when you harvest it. For example when you harvest carrots you hear someone munching on one like Bugs Bunny, or when you harvest chickens they "cluck."
I had made plans to review a different game, but Puzzle Craft kept getting in the way. It’s surprising how addictive this game has become. What started as a curious time killer on my bus rides to and from work has become something I play a few times a day. What makes it so compelling is that the two pieces of gameplay, the match three and city building, are so intertwined. The strategy of the game is deeper that what you are originally led to believe. Do I invest in a new building to increase the appearance of carrots in the field or do I hire a worker to help with the mine? Do I use resources or just buy it out right?
If this all sound s bit like a social media game you aren’t far off. The difference here though is the game never asks you to bother your friends for help, nor does it ever ask you use real money to buy more resources or coins. The option to buy coins with real money is there if you are impatient, but is never required. There are also time restraints. The buildings that help also provide items, but only after a set time period, just like the taxes. In a way this can limit the amount of time you play per session. Although, in my opinion, a session of working the field, then working the mine, and then resupplying tools/building the city was just enough game time. If you have the push notification on it will also let you know when taxes are ready.
Puzzle Craft seems to be well put together too. It has only crashed on me once and a minor bug has kept me from unlocking an achievement, but developer Ars Thanea Games has informed me that they have an update coming out soon that will fix that. This update will also expand the game.
For a game that seemed simple at first, it really grew on me over time, Puzzle Craft earns a 4.5 out of 5.
Puzzle Craft is rated 4+ for four years old and older on the iTunes App Store and is universally iOS compatible. A Windows 8 version is available in Europe at this time and an Android may be coming soon.