Purify Puzzle lacks the features we’ve come to expect of the match-3 genre.

Taking a step back can sometimes lead to greater success going forward. Purify Puzzle aims to take a leaf out of the classic arcade puzzler book, paying homage to games gone by while updating the visuals with a HD shine.

Unfortunately, Purify Puzzle takes one too many steps back. It doesn’t particular get the basics down right, and everything else, from the bare game modes to the repetitive music and action make this feel as though it was concocted in the Stone Age of gaming.

Ashley is a witch who holds a magical book that the evil spirits desperately want to get a hold of. Without warning, the spirits descend on Ashley, whipping the book out of her hands, and then turning their attention to her. In jumps a young wizard called max, who saves her life, and the duo set out to retrieve the book.

Play involves placing different coloured spirits into a container above, matching three or more together to make them pop. Spirits don’t need to be placed into a straight line, but rather can meander anywhere around the grid, as long as they are all touching. The key to clearing a level is to clear the whole grid of spirits.

Of course, you may be holding a specific colour that you’d rather not at that moment. Hence, it’s possible to swap between two colours, the second of which is stored away below. If you don’t want either, there are eight “passes” available for getting rid of the current spirit and trying a different, more useful one.

The controls are a little awkward. Although both keyboard and mouse controls are available, neither feels particularly great. Numerous times we accidentally passed on a spirit or shifted a spirit into the grid above when we didn’t mean to, as the interface isn’t so helpful.

In fact, on the whole the entire game feels a little awkward. Loading screens jolt as if not able to keep up with the strain, certain graphics look stretched and, in general, it’s not technically sound at all. It would have been much better if just one control scheme had been stuck to.

We found a number of ways to break the game too. During levels, an eye falls down from the top, and if one of your columns touches it, you lose. However, if you keep throwing spirits into the columns over and over and don’t give the game time to think, it will never end, with columns passing the eye at the top but no consequences happening.

The game also suffers from a lack of content. There’s the main Arcade mode that features 30 levels, which determined gamers should be able to blast through in under an hour. Infinite Survival and Time Attack didn’t hold our attention for very long either.

Then the multiplayer options are very odd indeed – the local multiplayer barely gives any indication regarding how to play it, and we were forced to work it all out ourselves. We weren’t able to get an online game going, as the game kept telling us that we needed to open certain ports on our router, even though we knew these ports were indeed open.

Purify Puzzle‘s HD graphics and spooky theme aren’t enough to make up for its design flaws and smattering of content. Unless you’re a match-3 fanatic, there are much better puzzlers out there waiting for you.