Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign (Free) by D3PA is a, you guessed it, Marvel-themed match-three game that features your favorite Marvel superheroes and villains. If you love your comics and matching games like the original Puzzle Quest titles, then you will enjoy this one.
Let’s face it — everyone seems to be in on the comic book trend lately, with all of the superhero films and the rise of popularity of conventions like San Diego Comic-Con. So it’s no surprise that we’d end up with a match-three game that puts the spotlight on popular Marvel heroes and villains, right? I was pretty excited when I heard the news this week, but I was a tad disappointed when I found out that this is a freemium title. However, so far, it’s still proving to be a good little time waster.
The visuals in the game are pretty impressive, as it showcases the comic book artwork of both the superheroes and villains. The game grid itself has shiny, bubbly game pieces that look pretty good on Retina screens, and the entire game retains the comic book look and feel through story and dialogue scenes.
Dark Reign features various chapters in the storyline, which you will need to go through one stage at a time. There is also the S.H.I.E.L.D. arena area, which you can do simulation battles and challenge other players online, though this requires a separate account to do so. Personally, I did not feel like creating another account for one game, so I did not bother with this aspect. Each chapter will feature its own map for you to battle your way through, with different minions and boss fights in each area.
If you’ve played Puzzle Quest games before, then this should be instantly familiar to you. Each round will feature a single grid, and you will take turns with the AI to make matches, which equate to attacks on each other. You will start out with a few heroes in your lineup, but as you win battles, you’ll be able to recruit more to your team. Each hero and villain (including minions) will have their own special attack, which can be initiated once you make enough matches of certain colors. You can view how many of each gem color you’ve matched by tapping on the “>” button in the top half of the screen. Each color of gem will have a symbol on it, letting you know who will be attacking when a match is made.
In order to win a battle, you’ll need to deplete the enemy of health points, which are indicated above each character. The stronger the character, the more damage they’ll do with matches. Also, the amount of damage dealt will vary with how many gems are in the match — a match of five will dish out more hurt than a match of only three, for example. You can also string together combos and create two matches in one to get bonuses like an extra turn.
Boss fights against super villains will prove to be much more challenging, as they are able to attack every turn like you. However, their minions are not able to do so, and will need a few turns to prepare their attack, which you can negate if you match the block that they attached a countdown to.
The more you play, the more damage your characters will take. You can heal them at the cost of gems though, and if they are defeated in battle, you’ll have to wait a while before they can fight again. I’m not to fond of this “energy” system, really, but I suppose it’s a nice mechanic to prevent you from getting addicted to the game like most match-threes.
You are able to earn experience points to level and train up your hero’s powers, as well as recruit new members to your lineup. The game features all of the well-known heroes and villains, so you’re sure to see very familiar faces in the Marvel Universe. Unfortunately, the leveling and training will require a lot of ISO–8 (purple crystals) for each upgrade, so like most freemium games, the aggressive push for IAP is here. Fortunately, you do get ISO–8 with victories and selling back covers, so it’s not too ba
Even though I’m not a big fan of the freemium push, I have to admit that this is a pretty fun game. If anything, it’s a great way to kill some time. However, it does seem to require an Internet connection to play, so don’t count on this if you commute on a subway or anything.
I recommend checking out Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign if you’re a comic or match-three fan, as it’s a free universal download in the App Store with in-app purchases.