When hearing the phrase “Puzzle Game”, gamers make the immediate association with games such as Bejewled, Tetris, and Puzzle Quest. Puzzle Chronicles takes parts of all three of these cornerstones in the puzzle genre, and wraps it in a RPG story. In most puzzle games, I personally look for a few distinct qualities: feeling like my skill outweighs luck in the game, the “minute to learn, lifetime to master” feeling, solid graphics and good user interface, and is it fun enough that my casual gamer girlfriend can be entertained and enjoy it? Sadly, Puzzle Chronicles falls short in many of these areas.
When you boil it down, Puzzle Chronicles is basically Konami's take on the Puzzle Quest series. The story of Chronicles is a D&D-ish tale told with what could be Flash animations in comic book like cut-scenes. The story is of a village being grabbed by slavers and the hero who sets out to free his friends through the power of puzzle. Nothing groundbreaking here. You spend most of the game looking at the over world and battle screens, both look outdated and pretty bland. The voice acting in the cutscenes is quite dreadful and doesn't add much except for a chuckle at how cheesy they sound.
The action in Puzzle Chronicles consists mainly in head-to-head combat with the screen divided vertically. Pieces appear in groups of three and can be rotated as they move towards the center bar. There are multiple kinds of gems with some used to clear pieces, multicolored gems, and gems that push the center divider towards your opponent. Same colored gems can all be combined in 2×2 squares to form power gems which activate powers and specials when cleared. There is some variety from Tetris- like mini-games to break the monotony, but most of your puzzle battling is done in the split screen fashion. Story mode offers some distraction with players having to upgrade skills, weapons, visiting shops, and embarking on side quests.
For a XBLA game at 800 points, there is always the question of “is there enough content and fun in this game to suffice a $10 price point?” The short answer is no to the vast majority and yes to a select few. For gamers longing for run-of-the-mill fantasy story, sub par graphics, character customization, with scores being settled on the puzzle field, this game if full of that. For gamers who are fans of the addictive fun of Bejewled and Tetris, or the “just one more game” feel of Peggle, this game severely lacks in both departments.
I unfortunately found the game play portion of the game quickly got boring and repetitive which is a major problem for a puzzle game. The story the game centered around was a cookie cutter combination of shallow and uninteresting. The presentation of menus I found confusing and clunky to navigate, but the music of the game held up fairly well. My girlfriend was immediately put off by the appearance of the game and didn't have close to as much fun as she has had in other puzzle games. Overall, if looking for a puzzle game on Xbox Live I would tell you your money is better spent elsewhere on a better polished and actually fun game.