Cruel Jewels by TicBits Ltd icon

Cruel Jewels (Free) by TicBits Ltd is probably one of the best match-three games there is. No, I’m not even kidding. Once you pick this up, you won’t be able to stop for a good while.

I am a fan of match-three games, but sometimes they can be a bit boring. Fortunately, I heard of Cruel Jewels only a few weeks ago, and it has earned the right to be called the best match-three puzzler in the App Store, at least by me. But hey, if you give it a try yourself, you’re bound to fall in love with it too.

Cruel Jewels by TicBits Ltd screenshot

The first thing that caught my eye about this game were the beautiful visuals. Everything looks sharp on Retina devices, and will pop out at you once there is a lot of stuff going on at once on the screen. The game’s music is fantastic as well, with a classical influence to it. Overall, the visuals and music combine to give the player a relaxing and fun combination.

There are four game modes in Cruel Jewels: Classico, Continuum, One Hot Minute, and Fisticuffs with three game difficulty levels: Placid, Tricky and Cruel.

Classico will be the normal mode, where you match three or more gems in rows and columns, filling up the meter and making sure that time doesn’t run out on you. However, to make things interesting, after every two rounds, you will find yourself in a duel against Leonard St. Vile himself! The goal is to outwit him and make matches to deplete his health meter.

During duels, there are no timers, so you can take your time. As a bonus, if you make a match of four or five gems, you will get an extra turn, so make sure to take advantage of that. Each duel will pit you against a more advanced AI, so brace yourself for the difficulty increase. If you prefer to just have these duels only, the Fisticuffs mode is perfect for you.

Continuum is an endless mode, so you can play to your heart’s content. If you get tired of it, you can just go back to the main menu and start a new game — your score will be saved. One Hot Minute, my most favorite mode of them all, will give you exactly 60 seconds to get as many points as you can. It’s like Bejeweled Blitz, but more challenging.

Cruel Jewels by TicBits Ltd screenshot

To make a match, just swipe on a gem in the direction you want to swap it, or tap to select and then tap on an adjacent gem to swap it with. There will also be gems that are locked in place, can eliminate a row or colum, or clear a cluster of adjacent gems, so think strategically.

After each game, you will see your stats, which always interest me. Information displayed includes your score, time played, how many of each gem you matched, time wasted, and more. While it may not be necessary, it does help you see the areas you may need to improve on upon the game. There is also Game Center for leaderboards and lots of achievements.

This is the only match-three game that I’ve been playing recently, and for good reason: it’s incredibly fun and addictive. I like the added challenge of outwitting a foe in a duel, and the increased difficulties. It’s a refreshing change in a tired genre.

The only thing is that since this is a free game, there are some ads. However, I did not find them to get in the way of actually playing the game, which is nice. Of course, there is an option to disable the ads with a $1.99 in-app purchase, but it’s completely optional.

If you’re looking for a great new match-three game for your iPhone, then I highly recommend checking out Cruel Jewels. Want more puzzles? Then check out our Games for Puzzle Lovers AppList.