Diamonds blaze, all right… but the fun flickers out a little too quickly.
Diamonds Blaze feels Dungeon Raid meets Bejeweled Blitz. And while that combination sounds like an excellent mash up of RPG-puzzling, you know what they say: try to do two things amazingly and you do neither that well. Diamonds Blaze ultimately lacks much of the originality successful puzzle games tend to embrace, and feels full of half-measures throughout. Fortunately, there’s still some fun to be had – for a while.
Like Dungeon Raid, Diamonds Blaze uses a modified version of the typical “match three” style of puzzle play. There are four types of gems which fill up an 8-by-8 board. To clear them, all you do is draw a line connecting three or more adjacent gems, without diagonals or overlaps. Those gems will then disappear, everything above them will fall, and new gems will fill the remaining gaps. You’re given one minute to do this and earn as many points as possible. Like I said about the originality.
If you come from a Bejeweled Blitz background, you may need to forget some of the tips and tricks you picked up from that game. There’s no swapping tiles here, and there are no chain reactions resulting from drops. Instead, your strategy comes from wisely clearing smaller strings from the get-go so you can set up longer strings later and earn more points. But the biggest benefit to long strings is the creation of bombs. Match five or more gems and a bomb forms, acting as wild card. When included in a string, it will destroy a huge mess of gems: sometimes in a certain radius, sometimes in a cross, or others still in the matching color.
The most unique aspect of Diamonds Blaze is the ability to buy power-ups. You can earn coins by playing enough to level up, inviting friends, or of course by using real money. When you have at least two thousand coins, you can begin buying power-ups, which shine immediately as the best way to inflate your score. Power-ups let you spawn multiplier gems, add time, start with bombs, detonate all bombs, and shuffle the field.
Even with a full inventory of power-ups, however, it’s still hard to earn a ton of points. When I first landed the award for 75 thousand points, I was excited… until I noticed the top of the leaderboard had over two million. In this way, the friend-based and weekly leaderboards are a fun way to compare your score against your friends, but the worldwide leaderboard is a frustrating reminder of this game’s proclivity for rewarding those who pay, and punishing those who don’t.
Puzzle games are a dime a dozen, and those that don’t stand out or hold your attention will easily get swept away. Ultimately, Diamonds Blaze is a perfect example of the latter. Sure, it’s hard to criticize it too harshly; everything it does, it does quite well. And yet every great game needs to have a hook, something to set it apart from the rest. And for I game I’m alway son the cusp of really loving, it’s a shame Diamonds Blaze doesn’t have that x-factor. Some games tout themselves as “pick-up and play?” This one’s “pick up, put down, and stow.” At the price tag, it’s hard not to recommend giving it a shot, but stay your expectations: Diamonds Blaze is a jack of all trades, and master of none.