Daily iPad App: Puzzle Craft is puzzle farming bliss
I came to a realization a little while ago: I love grindy games. I really enjoy games with a certain amount of repetition to them, games where I slowly but steadily build up resources and a character (or an empire) while performing somewhat mindless but infinitely amusing tasks. Puzzle Craft fits right in that category -- like that other great puzzle/RPG mashup, Puzzle Quest (as well as the recent 10000000), it provides a solid and rewarding system of progression to a fairly basic but amusing puzzle system.
The progression system is all "built" around a town: You start out the game with just a farmfield, and then slowly use that field, collecting its resources in the puzzle game, to build up houses and a mine, and then a windmill and so on, until you have a thriving metropolis in its place. To do all of this, you collect a series of resources, each of which can be used to build buildings, tools, or hire certain citizens or workers. Because Puzzle Craft is published by Chillingo, all of this is very clear, and the graphics are colorful and clean, with specific icons used for each resource that easily and quickly convey what you need to collect more of.
The puzzle mechanic itself is reminiscent of Dungeon Raid -- it's a match 3, but instead of moving items around a grid, you need to draw a line through as many of the same items as possible. Puzzle Craft does iterate on that system, however, by letting you combine objects when you collect enough of them -- you can combine 10 grain into a carrot, and then combine carrots into a soup. Hiring workers lets you change how those combination rules work, and tools can be used in certain situations to help clear the screen or collect a certain kind of resource.
Puzzle Craft is a really terriffic game, possibly my favorite App Store entry of the year. It's a 99-cent universal download, and I highly recommend it. Yes, it can get a little grindy, and specific strategies (like when to use tools) can get very complex. But it brilliantly combines a very casual puzzle mechanic with a very engaging progression system, and that's made me put hours of gameplay into it since it was released last week.
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