• Puzzle Stones Review - Mobile

    Puzzle Stones by Akies Games is an innovative take on the colour block matching genre. By throwing away several of the clichéd staples that you normally find in this sort of game, they have made it fresh and exciting.

    So, read carefully. Random coloured blocks (or “Stones”) appear on a grid and it is your job to meet certain requirements to complete the level by matching and thus deleting three or more coloured Stones at a time. However, these Stones do not have to be next to each other – they have to be on the same line, be it horizontally or vertically, but they can have one or two Stones in gaps between a matched colour. So for example when trying to match a yellow sequence, [yellow, yellow, yellow] works and so does [yellow, black, yellow, black, black, yellow], but [yellow, black, black, red, yellow, yellow] does not work due to the three Stone gap breaking the yellow “match” chain.

    Puzzle Stones is a touch game, so once a match is identified, just brush your finger from the first Stone in the match to the last one. Since it’s possible to include more than three Stones in a match, you may not want to include further matching Stones on the same line, depending on the objective of the level. For example it’s not always advantageous to collect as much as you can on a line in “High Score” game type (timer limited) because three contiguous Stones right next to each other are worth more than four with a gap. However, in “Stone Goals”, your aim is to match as many Stones of specified colours as quickly as possible within the timer, so the gaps aren’t a worry. Other game types are “Time Trial” where you see how long it takes to reach a set score, “Coverage” where you have to colour in part of the grid (by creating matches on all squares within that grid subnet) and “Coloured Squares” where squares are lit up with a certain background colour and they must be “turned off” by performing a match using that same colour and including that square. This variety of modes goes a long way to keeping each game exciting and interesting.

    Unlike most other games in this genre that use gravity to refill matched blocks, Puzzle Stones instead allows you to determine how the grid is refilled. If a match is performed by swiping from left to right, new blocks will be dragged in from the left, pushing Stones along to the right to fill holes left by deleted Stones. Since a match can be started from either end of the colour chain, you could equally push the remaining Stones to the left by starting the same match from the right hand end. Since you do not know what coloured Stones will be dragged on to the grid, it’s like playing a Rubik's Cube where you can't quite see what the other side looks like but you can have a guess and work the system to your advantage. This genius feature allows you to start moving colours around the grid and even form matching chains across the entire grid with enough thought and a spot of luck.

    Very occasionally there are no possible moves, so the grid rebuilds, but this is incredibly rare due to the nature of the game. If you can’t see a match to make, the game waits a while before providing a hint start point.

    Achievements called “Challenges” are awarded for various difficult actions, like matching across the entire grid, or completing Arcade mode in various times, or simply finishing the entire Campaign mode on hard difficulty setting – no mean feat, needing some dedicated time. You’ll certainly get your money’s worth here. Arcade mode throws you into six levels of various game types which must be cleared as quickly as possible for a total time across all six. Campaign mode has 20 increasingly tough stages with five levels on each stage. By the time you complete the Campaign on easy difficulty, you’ll be in the zone and have worked out the nuances of the game, and no doubt feeling pretty confident in your ability. Then you’ll move on to hard mode and realise you really need to step up your game! The difficulty curve throughout is very well designed though, providing a decent challenge and not always allowing a level to be completed first time.

    A local multiplayer mode requires throwing all your previously learned game processes out of the window because you take turns to create matches, meaning that you need to do your best to match in a way that scuppers the following turn, instead of setting it up, which can become quite heated.

    Puzzle Stones is a wonderful addition to the coloured block genre and anyone who likes this type of game should definitely give it a try. There’s great variety and a well considered difficulty curve, with lots to learn. It’s genuinely innovative and different enough to make it stand out from the crowd.

    Score: 8/10

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