A match-3 really worth forging your time into
If I were explaining Puzzle Forge to someone I would start by comparing it to Triple Town. Then I would tell them this game is even deeper. Just like in that game, you’ll be combining like elements on a grid by placing them next to each other. But while Triple Town just collapses the items into a new one on a set scale, Puzzle Forge has you creating elements of different weaponry that you need to craft together. Let me explain.
You have two running columns of items you can place on the board, different ores and different molds. Like Triple Town, you can put three of the brown ore together and they turn into a silver one (better quality=more points). Three of the silvers together turn into an ingot… and so forth. But what you really want to do is to create parts of a weapon, and that requires the molds in the other column. You can switch between the two kinds at any time to determine what you’ll drop onto the grid next. The molds require two of the same ore type: if you want to make a blade, you need to have two ores of the same kind adjacent, then drop the blade mold down next to them to create a weapon piece.
Each item has its own recipe that you need to work through in order to craft it, at which time it can be sold to a customer for cash. So if someone wants a sword, you’ll need to create a handle and two blades, all adjacent to each other when you’re done with the ore and the molds.
Wherever you drop the last piece of the puzzle is where the item will appear, similar to Triple Town, but that’s not the only thing you need to concern yourself with. In addition to paying attention to where things finish, all the squares used for the final craft are burning hot and can’t be used until they cool down. That takes time, so you need to work around them (or you can buy powerups to cool it faster). A meandering group of items may get the job done, but it’s a pain to work around the unusable spots afterwards.
Puzzle Forge quite simply has all the things that make a puzzle game super compelling and just ratchets them all up a few notches. The crafting is a great way to constantly change your strategy while you play, and the rotating customers means you never know what item you need to make next.
My biggest complaint is really a UI one. Each customer that comes to the shop has a specific request, such as a hammer or an axe. Each item also has its own specific recipe in order to craft it. All those recipes are quite honestly tough to memorize, and I found myself constantly tapping on the customers to see what I needed to put together to make them happy. It would’ve been great to have a way to have that information on the game screen all the time, instead of always having to tap away from the main screen to find it.
Not since my days of playing Kairosoft games have I played such a cat and mouse game with my phone’s battery life. More than once I dumped out of the game to check on my dwindling power and thought to myself “eh, I can squeeze one more round out of this before needing to find a charger.” Even now I can hear its siren song, to come back and craft some more. I can tell you with absolute certainty that Puzzle Forge is going to be front and center on my Nexus for quite some time.