Combinging two different genres into one game is a perfectly legitimate form of innovation. Just look at the wonderful Puzzle Quest, or the earlier Super Puzzler Fighter II, which combines fighting and tile-matching puzzles to insanely addictive effect. I’ve written before about how the top guys at Sony Worldwide Studios do this as a sort of game design exercise – they’ll just stick 100 game titles in a bag, pull out two and then try to create a game that combines them. I think, by doing this, you can discover really interesting things about the structure and mechanics of different game styles – and when those machines of fun are clamped together, amazing stuff can happen.
So yes, I’ve just played Puzzle Craft, a new title from multifaceted Polish studio Arsthanea, which combines a city-building sim with a match three puzzler. Your aim is to construct a cute little town, filled with various useful buildings. Do to this, however, you need to gather reources like food, wood and coal – and these must be earned with a serious of tile matching mini-games. It’s not quite like Bejeweled though – instead of lining up three or more squares of the same colour, you need to dfag your finger along the screen to link similar objects. There’s a farming version where you use the puzzle to ‘grow’ venetables and grains, which can then be combined into useful products. There’s also a mining version of the game, where you match tiles to get hold of handy minerals. All of the tile matching sessions can be enhanced by crafting and using the correct tools. You’ll also need to construct lots of different buildings to augment your ability to process recources.
The game has its own currency, which you earn through production (though you can also buy coins with in-app purchases), and as your town slowly grows, you’ll be able to share acghievements with friends via Game Center and Facebook.
It’s quite a confusing set-up at first, but then so is Triple Town, which also seeks to combine city building with tile matching. Puzzle Craft is different though in its emphasis on using the puzzles to gather materials and create new tools and buildings and in its segregation of the different cpomponents. It feels much more about creating a town than solving a puzzle, and the crafting aspects make it more like Triple Town mixed with Minecraft. Lord, this is getting complicated.
Look, Puzzle Craft is a really interesting title offering a deep and engaging interplay of game styles. I’ll need to play for longer to get a handle on its interdepedent mechanics, but there is real thought here about how ‘casual’ social genres can merge together to engender more complex systems.
Puzzle Craft is on iOS and hit the App Store yesterday at 0.69p