Mobile games tend to love having Free to Play puzzle games that kill a few minutes of your time, bit by bit. Many use the idea of Bejeweled and work on improving that formula, but Puzzle Forge 2 decides to take a twist on the classic. Created by Tuesday Game, you take the role of a blacksmith in a generic fantasy RPG town, with the goal of making, enchanting, and selling your wares to the would-be heroes.
Puzzle Forge 2 - Match 3 with a Twist
To create a more interesting match 3 game, they decided to do away with the majority of random chance. You place the blocks or in this case, ores. Two ores plus a material create that material. Three materials create a weapon. Three ores create a better one. There isn’t sliding or blocks constantly falling, just placing ore and making weapons to give to customers.
At the beginning of the day, a handful of colorful characters will come to the shop and request certain items. Perhaps they want an iron sword, or a bronze shovel. It’s all very simple to create, with the only part you need to keep in mind that once a weapon is made, you can’t use that space for 60 turns as the space is ‘hot.’ Make a handful of weapons, pass them to customers, get paid in points and gold. It seems a bit too easy at first.
Until the kicker that ramps the difficulty up comes into play: at the end of the day any leftover on the board is still there the next day. The sword you made just to get rid of some materials, that bit of bronze you didn’t get to use, that gem you placed but had nothing to socket it into, it all starts creating blockades. The iron shovel you made by mistake suddenly starts to become the greatest threat to victory.
To make matters slightly more complicated, as the game goes on they start to request more complicated things. If they want it enchanted, the ore must be placed on the tile that is glowing purple first. If they want it with gems, it must have a gem nearby. Make a mistake, and the weapon just hangs out in the forge, praying you get someone who wants it later down the line to create some room.
Puzzle Forge 2 - Orders and Issues
Can’t fulfill that order due to running low on room? Simply don’t think it’s worth trying to create that gold item as the majority of customers are begging for bronze? Sometimes a customer's request just can't be fulfilled and you have to turn them down. You lose one heart for doing that. Other times you just can't make the weapon in time, you lose a heart for that. Lose two hearts, and it's back to day 1. Thankfully, you get to keep your gold and experience.
There are ways to make it easier, as satisfied customers or the shop allow you to buy items to create shortcuts. Instead of desperately trying to create that piece of steel that just isn't fitting on the board, or simply needing a hilt and the order just isn't showing up, the shortcuts tend to be invaluable for getting around certain stages.
Of course it wouldn’t be a RPG style game if it didn’t have the other way to make it easier - leveling up. As you create items you gain experience. That experience gives you wisdom stones, which you can cash in for getting new abilities. They can range from cooling down the forge in less turns to allowing multiple enchantments spots. While none of them appear to be completely game-changing, they do make it much easier to last in the later levels.
That’s where the free to play model really crops up. That and the ads, which will appear at the end of every day and at the bottom of the screen. They don’t tend to be overly obtrusive and can be removed by paying a small amount of money. The other way is to go to the bank and spend a few dollars to buy a large amount of gold or a few wisdom stones straight away. The part of this that is actively rather nice of Tuesday Games is that they decided to never bother you with this. It is possible to play the game without ever even knowing that the bank exists.
Puzzle Forge 2 - Monetization
Nothing in the game will tell you to pay for gold, or grab a wisdom stone if you are having trouble. If you are having trouble, keep playing until you aren’t seems to be the logic. Which brings it to the part of the game that seems to be the theme. It is extremely frustrating at times, as you hit this point later in the game where there’s simply no way you can finish your crystal sword of multiple enchantments due to a poorly placed piece of steel. The issue is, it really is your fault. The game does not have timers, nor does it have constantly shifting pieces. If you find yourself stuck, it was probably because you didn’t think of where to place that final piece.
That is what makes it both a very engaging game for a casual five minutes, or a solid hour. It is a game where practicing will make you better, and get further and further, with or without the bonus items or levels. This is also the problem with the game. Puzzle Forge 2's biggest flaw is that you can master it. The removal of many random elements means that once you learn a few tricks, it is easy to win every day. The game begins to get stale once you figure how to consistently make each ore, or once you have enough items to cheat your way out of most situations.
Items tends to bring up the other problem. If you play on a phone, the text for the words will be extremely tiny. If you are unable to read fine print, you are better off guessing to what they are trying to say over actively trying to read it. This issue is thankfully simply due to the small nature of the screen, as for tablets this is a non-issue. It is an issue however, that was poor planning when putting it onto phone devices.
To put it frankly, it is a great way to waste a few hours while waiting on the train or while you are simply bored. It is a decent game for trying something a bit more unique, while trying to still keep the spirit of other games of this genre. It tends to fall short in just a few ways that prevent it from being a truly great game.
TechRaptor reviewed Puzzle Forge 2 on Android with a freely available download. It is also available on iOS. This review was originally published on 01-26-2015. While care has been taken to update the piece to reflect our modern style guidelines, some of the information may be out of date. We've left pieces like this as they were to reflect the original authors' opinions and for historical context.