Have you ever wanted a match-3 puzzle game that did more than, you know, let you match stuff? Boy do we have a surprise for you. MatchVentures is one of the most unique puzzle hybrids since the original Puzzle Quest landed in our laps. You’ve got dungeons to explore, secrets to find, and power-ups to unleash, all while matching tiles and engaging in some RPG-like item collection in the process.
MatchVentures starts with a stock fantasy story about a fallen kingdom, evil overrunning the land, so on and so forth. The point is you get to save the world, and somehow that happens by matching stuff! Click one tile to select a piece, then click another to make them change places. If you get three or more of the same type in a row or column, they match, they disappear, and more things fall from above. Create power-ups by making huge matches and use them to clear out larger sections of the screen. You’ll even have to chip away at obstacles like dirt, fog, and chains before you can swap certain tiles.
Most match-3 games take place in small grids with a few level goals to complete. MatchVentures kicks things off with the same setup only to ditch it a few stages in. You’ll still need to complete level goals in order to progress, but those levels often span multiple screens, just like a tile-based RPG map. In order to get to those areas you’ll need to find a special item. Maybe it’s a key, maybe some wooden boards to place over a spike pit. Either way, finding the item means uncovering hidden spaces on the screen. When you open up a new area your level goals suddenly expand, but so do your matching options.
MatchVentures lets you move freely between screens by clicking on the mini-map. You’ll need to do a surprising amount of this to complete both the required and the optional stage goals. One particularly impressive level sticks cobwebs in the corner of a screen, muttering something about needing “wind” to get rid of them. In another area you eventually uncover a wind potion which, naturally, clears the cobwebs away. You’ll even get to complete super short mini-games when unlocking some of these extras!
Earning cash is a huge part of the MatchVentures experience. You need it to pay the leprechaun, you see, as he knows of a spell that can set your kingdom free. You’ll also spend it on rebuilding castle walls and structures, as well as buying items during your matching adventure scenes. If you ever need some bonus cash, try following the tile pattern at the bottom corner of the screen. Make matches in the specified order and you’ll score extra money, which is perfect for buying a bomb to help get you out of a tight spot.
MatchVentures looks like a simple, ordinary match-3 game. In reality it’s anything but that. You’ll spend 10-15 minutes, maybe even hours in certain stages as you go back and forth, swapping tiles, finding items, uncovering bonuses, and clearing out tough obstacles. It plays like a puzzle game, but it feels like an RPG. It’s an incredible mixture of genres that will sink its hooks in you from the beginning and never, ever let go.