Puzzle Quest 3 Does The Match-Three RPG A Little Differently

Puzzle Quest 3 Does The Match-Three RPG A Little Differently
Now in 3D. (Screenshot: 505 Games / Kotaku)

The game that kicked off the match-three/RPG genre in 2007 is back for a third go with Puzzle Quest 3. An early preview of the Android version of the threequel reveals a somewhat more dynamic take on the genre mash-up. Giving players two seconds to map out their moves makes a big difference.

The basic idea of Puzzle Quest is that players match gems to gather mana to cast spells or directly damage the enemy. For example, my Assassin — one of Puzzle Quest 3’s five playable classes along with Paladin,

Necromancer, Berzerker, and Shaman — requires 100 purple mana to cast Night Blade, a skill that does a certain amount of damage plus five per cent for every purple gem on the board. At my Assassin’s current level, matching a purple gem nets me 12 mana. Once I gather 100 purple mana I can cast my spell, the enemy takes damage, and my purple mana is spent. It’s a simple, elegant system that’s kept me coming back to the first two games and various spin-offs for 14 years.

Puzzle Quest 3 changes things up in several ways. For one, computer-controlled enemies don’t get a turn matching gems. Instead they have automatic abilities that fire off each round. The goblin in the screenshot atop this post removes two random gems from the board every turn, which can drastically change the board layout, but there’s no worrying about missing a big match and having the enemy swoop in to take advantage.

The most drastic change, however, is how you take a turn. Rather than performing a single gem swap each turn, you’re given two seconds to make as many matches on the board as possible. Gems can be swapped up and down, side to side, and diagonally, so there’s a lot of room to manoeuvre. With some skill and a bit of luck you can clear most of the screen in a single turn.

Can you point out the matches I missed? The green ones? Kicking myself.  (Screenshot: 505 Games / Kotaku)Can you point out the matches I missed? The green ones? Kicking myself. (Screenshot: 505 Games / Kotaku)

The extra time to move adds an all-new layer of depth to the game’s strategy. Though most of my time spent with the preview build has seen me facing off against easily dispatched fodder, I can see where my character is going and how important gem movement is going to be as I get up in level.

I’m looking forward to diving deeper into Puzzle Quest 3’s core gameplay, unlocking new skills and abilities and trying new classes. What I am not looking forward to getting caught up in all the free-to-play fluffery that’s been tacked on to the experience. There are multiple bits of equipment that can be evolved and leveled up with resources. Resources earned through chests can either be unlocked with keys either rewarded or purchased with in-game currency. Chests can also be unlocked over time using collectible minions, but the minions are on a timer, the chests are on a timer, timer, timer, timer. I really hate arbitrary timers.

Upgrade all the things.  (Screenshot: 505 Games / Kotaku)Upgrade all the things. (Screenshot: 505 Games / Kotaku)

But I love Puzzle Quest, so I will stick with Puzzle Quest 3 for a bit. Good news is, if you’re an Android user, you can get in on the early access for free via Google Play right now. Join me as I pummel spiders, orcs, and goblins with my mad Bejeweled skills and gripe loudly about stupid chest timers.


  • Oh dear. That all sounds awful. I was hoping for… well. Something else. At least I’ve still got the unmatched original currently running on my Switch.

    • I’ve got it running on my PSP Go. However on PS4/5 I have been playing Gems of War which isn’t too bad. I’m interested to see whether these changes can win me over, but it doesn’t sound like it. I could be wrong though.

      • Oh, Gems of War is the best Puzzle Quest clone I’ve played in ages, but after a while it gets very grindy, and very Pay2Win. Which you should expect to an extent, given that it’s F2P and by its very nature you should be dropping at least a reasonable box price before expecting equivalent enjoyment, but its hunger is fathomless and its focus on PVP and leaderboard-chasing for rewards is a bit much.

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