Monday Freeview: ‘Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign’

Marvel Puzzle Quest Dark Reign

After a small hiatus, the Monday Freeview is back bringing you the best and worst of free entertainment in all shapes, forms and sizes. Today we look at the mobile app, Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign. First off, thanks for staying timely Marvel.

Dark Reign as a status quo happened between 2008 to 2009. But since it has been plastered in every Marvel book over the past month, I figured it was worth a shot and gave it a download. As you might have guessed from the name, the Marvel universe is put into the gem matching world of Puzzle Quest though there are some dramatic differences due to the game’s free to play nature.

Puzzle Quest focuses on playing out combat scenarios using the Bejeweled method of lining up three, four or five gems of the same color in a row. In Puzzle Quest, these combinations deal damage according to the player’s choice in character. The gems also tally up and can be cashed in by the player for various attacks, again determined by who the characters on the board are. Each side can have up to three characters and wins when the other side is knocked out. After a match, experience in the form of ISO’s is distributed and various unlockables can be won as well, encouraging a player to repeat the same battle multiple times.

Under the free to play formula though, things become spend happy rather quickly. In between battles, characters need time to recover health. While the Nintendo DS versions of Puzzle Quest would allow players to recover automatically, time can be reduced by med packs in Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign which can of course be purchased. Unlocking characters has the same basis behind it. If you play through a game you can unlock more characters and roster slots or you can just dump a bunch of money into in game and buy character packs and experience. While I don’t have a problem with this from a balance perspective since Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign doesn’t have a multiplayer component, it does suck for the players who want to experience the game don’t have the option to without the scaled economy. It’s times like this where the free to play takes away from the people who actually want to play as it penalizes them with time constraints rather than the ability to just purchase the game for $5 and have a more streamlined experience free from microtransactions.

I am still pretty early on in the game so I don’t know how the healing time is going to affect my long term enjoyment of the title. Right now if I lose a fight, it takes about 20 minutes for them to recover to fighting shape. That seems reasonable. But what worries me is as characters gain more and more health, it might take hours to recover and if that is the case I am going to cut my losses on it sooner than later.

What was incredibly frustrating is the game requires server connectivity. I had originally downloaded it as I was about to hop on a cross country flight. After takeoff I pulled out my iPad to find out that if you aren’t connected, you can’t play and there was no way I was gonna pay $6.00 an hour for inflight wifi on United to play a game that was downloaded for free.

Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign is, like most free to play games, worth giving a shot if you like the gem matching puzzle formula. The in game story is week so it really is the gameplay that drives it forward but the focus on microtransactions may be its fast undoing.

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