Puzzle Knights attempts to combine the role playing game and puzzle genre, and if done correctly, this free to play app would be a no brainer to download. Who wouldn't want to wrack their brains on a few gem infused twisters and then proceed to wield a sword against their enemies? Such an equation is a total win-win iOS lovers who love to mix it up. With all this promise behind it, does Puzzle Knights answer the bell, or is it a freemium nightmare?

A quick tutorial is all that's needed to get things started for Puzzle Knights, as you'll be able to learn the app's intricacies within minutes. Before your warrior heads off to his showdown, you must solve various puzzles by matching like colored gems and jewels. The goal of each puzzle is to fill up your stamina bar, which in turn gives you much needed energy for the duel. If you're a tried and true gambler, you can still head to the arena without the optimal amount of strength.

Once you get the stamina situation out of the way, you select a number of moves for the impending sword fight. Whether it's attack, counter attack, or defend, your choices depend on your own fighting style and really isn't contingent upon the other online fighter you're set to face. As the match begins, all you can do is sit back and watch the carnage. Although it's a turn based combat mechanic, you're not actually fighting the other person by tapping and touching your device. Your work is done once you solve your puzzles and prepare your moves.

To play Puzzle Knights, you'll need to be online. Currently at level six, I've experienced a couple of hours of solid fights without any kind of lag time. Finding an opponent was instantaneous, and hopefully your online experience will be just as smooth as mine.

One of my favorite aspects of Puzzle Knights actually occurs when one is not playing the game. When you return to the app after doing all your non-iOS activities, you will be notified if your knight has engaged in any matches while you were gone. Once you tap a replay button, the actual fight that occurred in your absence is played before your very eyes. Knowing my fighter has a life outside my own commands is good to know, so a big kudos to the developers for giving us a replay feature.

Victories earn your warrior experience points and gold. As your finances improve, you can purchase upgraded swords, shields, and even different fighters along the journey. This, of course, is where the entire free to play mechanic kicks in. Don't expect a ton of your fights to earn you thousands of coins per battle, so if you want to buy one of the app's premium fighters, five bucks will get you 15,000 coins.

Considering the amount of game play available in Puzzle Knights, these in-app purchases are not a hindrance whatsoever, but are built to enhance one's experience. You can have a great time with the puzzles and weapons upgrades without spending a penny. Heck, if it takes me a hundred victories to win the services of the Black Knight, so be it.

Puzzle Knights is a diverting title that enables gamers to enjoy two different experiences within the same app. The combat mechanic may not be as intense as Infinity Blade III, but if you want a relatively peaceful, easy feeling experience with an RPG puzzler, this app doesn't disappoint. Besides, I'm just a greedy gem collector at heart, so if my knight gets all the glory while I'm lining my pockets, I won't raise a stink. He's a free to play kind of guy anyway, so our fighting days are far from over.


App Store Link: Puzzle Knights for iPhone & iPad | By Virtual Intelligence Inc. | Price: Free | Version: 1.1.2 | 41.7 GB | Rating: 9+

7.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating