Puzzle Craft Review
Puzzle Craft combines what may be the two most addictive forms of game play: real time strategy/farming and puzzle games. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on one thing, it adds new tools that make you want to keep playing.
You begin by starting a town. In this town you tend the fields and work the mines. Both mining and farming work the same way. A grid of icons lay before you and you connect as many of the same tiles as you can in a single move to collect that crop or mine that ore. You can go horizontally, vertically, diagonally or backwards as long as you only use each tile once.
So you can already see how addictive it may be to try to harvest the best crops in a single 24-turn season, but then you can build or buy tools to help you along. Logs you collect on the farm and iron and stones from the mine can be used to build tools. Rakes let you clear all the grass on the field in one swoop without losing a turn. Shovels let you dig away all the dirt in the mine in a single swipe without losing a turn. That’s the basic level. The further you get, you’re building wheelbarrows to collect pigs, axes to chop down trees, lamps to clear mine gas and drills to clear iron and stone. Then you make room for gold and diamonds!
Every time you work the mine you have to feed the miners. To feed them you use food from the farm. Every time you farm a crop, you have to pay the farmers. If you’ve spent too much on farming tools, you have to go work the mines again to get more goods to sell. I got to where I always had enough food for the miners, but wood from the farm is a resource too so I’d always need to build up more.
The further along you get, the more buildings you can add to your town. Some structures add to your assets in between harvests, some increase the number of moves you get in a mine or a farm session (although once you have 50-100 moves in the mine, that really is a long game) and some allow more workers to come to your town.
Oh yeah, you can hire workers to make the crops or mines more valuable. Depending on your priorities, you may hire more lumberjacks so you need less trees to get logs, or more miners so your stones go further. It’s an endless cycle that will leave you playing for hours when you should be moving on to the next thing.
Then from out of nowhere, new elements get introduced. In the mine you can unlock gas pockets so you need lamps to safely extinguish them, or TNT to blast through the rubble if the gas ignites. Rats and wolves start to plague the farm so you need to buy cats and guns to clear them out. You can also buy expansions via in-app purchases. It’s not that I’m cheap, I’m just determined to earn my town the old fashioned way. (I say that now, but by 3AM I might be logging into iTunes to stock up my cottages.)
The graphics are colorful and delightful. The controls are super simple. Finger swipes connect all the puzzle tiles, and taps activate your purchases and building. The music is a medieval Renaissance faire sort of pleasant ditty and kind of makes you feel like you’re playing King’s Quest on iPad.
It sounds a lot more complicated than it is. It took me a few minutes to get it, but then I just haven’t been able to stop connecting crops and mining. In fact, I’m going to wrap this up now so I can go back to Puzzle Craft. This is the quintessential Fred game, if you ever wonder about my criteria on other reviews.