Puzzle Quest: Galactrix – hands-on

Last night we finally got to try out Puzzle Quest: Galactrix for ourselves, and right off the bat we realized that while Galactrix does look quite different from its predecessor, Puzzle Quest fans will find that at heart, it still feels like the same game we know and love.

The easiest way to describe the gameplay is that it’s like a Bejeweled RPG with competitive battles (either against AI opponents in story mode or against friends in online matches). Sharing the same board, you take turns matching colored gems in lines either diagonally or vertically, and depending on the colors you match, you’ll gain various resources in battle.

Above: Match mines (numbered gems) to do direct damage to your opponents. The higher the number on the mine, the more damage it will do

The idea is that you’re commanding a spaceship that’s facing off against another spaceship, and the different gems power parts of your ship, like red for weapons, green for your computers and yellow for engines. These three gems power any items you equip to your ship (if you’re familiar with the original PQ, these item slots correspond to spells). As you match gems, your energy reserves will build in gauges, and you can use items once you have enough of certain energies stored – for example, if you have a basic laser equipped, you can use five points of red energy to blast your opponent with four points of damage (plus one more for every five points of red energy you have stored up).

Above: Keep your shields charged by matching blue gems to protect your ship from damage

The list of items available in Galactrix is quite impressive, so you’ll be able to find anything you need to suit your play style and balance your ship, like powerfully aggressive weapons, items that inflict status ailments, items that cure status ailments or items that repair your ship. Of course there are also items that manipulate the gems on the board in different ways, like destroying all gems of a certain color, or changing one color to another, or destroying gems of your choice. These types of items can be particularly effective, but are definitely more difficult to use, and require a bit of strategy and trial and error to figure out what works best.

Above: As you level up, you can choose how you want your skill points distributed

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