Puzzle Knights is an iOS game that attempts to merge the RPG and puzzle genres. It's a concept with the potential to be a lot of fun, but developers Mojaro fall far short of delivering a remotely enjoyable product. Puzzle Knights is essentially a watered down version of Bejeweled, with a halfway strung together combat system included as well.
The game begins with a tutorial that explains the concepts behind Puzzle Knights. Overall the game is very simple to play and the tutorial will have you grasping the basics in a matter of minutes. Simply put, your soldier must play a 20-30 second round of Bejeweled, to power up his stamina, before entering into combat, which consists of a rock-paper-scissors-like fight. Matching gems up in the puzzle mode will slowly power up your warrior's stamina; you can then enter combat when 50% of your gauge is filled, but the game advises you to wait until it's fully charged. This suggestion seems a bit pointless to me, as I have yet to see any legitimate benefit from filling the stamina meter all the way up compared to going in at half power.
Once you are ready to enter the battle arena you will have the option of setting your moves for the upcoming battle. There are three moves to be chosen from: attack, counter, and defend. Your opponent's moves are not revealed until the fight begins, so these choices are totally up to you and leaves the outcome of combat up to shear luck. Once the combat begins, there's no actual gameplay, instead you simply watch the mundane fighting animations. Choosing your moves prior to the engagement is as involved as you get in the combat.
To make matters worse, the combat itself is unpredictable and inconsistent. As previously stated, the moves you select at the beginning of the match should decide the outcome. However, that is not what actually happens. A shield should block a counter; a counter should defeat a basic attack; a basic attack should defeat a shield; a stronger strength should win an outright sword on sword match-up. While this is the way the tutorial explains things, it's simply not the case. A shield will often fail to defend against an attack, a counter will often fail to counter an attack, and so on.
While this adds a new depth to the randomness of the outcomes, it gets a bit silly at times. As a reviewer I received some free in-game gold to spend on upgrades. I tested having full strength and full armor, but even then I would still find myself losing match-ups that should have been heavily in my favor. A fully equipped armor character would fall to a knight with a starter sword. A monster of a sword character would lose to an opponent using a wooden stick. Nothing about the combat makes any sense. Why have an upgrade system if the armor and strength stats mean absolutely nothing?
If you do happen to win an engagement, you will be rewarded with experience and gold. Experience points are used to level-up (something that again is rendered seemingly meaningless by the randomness inherent in the game), and the gold is used to buy upgrades. The upgrade shop is filled with a variety of items, ranging from new skins, to swords, helmets, and shields. However, these items do not come cheap. Puzzle Knights' locked characters cost 120,000 gold a piece, making them very expensive and time consuming to acquire. If you would like to skip the hours of grinding, you can purchase in-game currency for actual money. Five dollars will get you 15,000 gold. I highly suggest not doing this, since upgraded items are so ineffective.
Puzzle Knights is simply not an enjoyable game. Stamina is lost at such a rapid rate that you must return to play a game of Bejeweled in-between every match-up. Then when you do get into combat it's so wildly random and devoid of enjoyment and interactivity that it feels like a simulation. While Puzzle Knights is free to download, it is also free of any actual gameplay or satisfaction.
This review is based on a digital copy of Puzzle Knights for the iOS, provided by the publisher.