Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign on console scrapped the free-to-play model of the game previously released on iOS and what’s left is a solid match-3 game well worth paying for. The game features a roster of all the marvel characters you’ve come to love either from the movies or the comics and brings them to the video game form in a way that adds much needed relevance for match-3 games to remain relevant in our day and age. The game arrives on console with a fully redone interface that makes this game feel completely new, even to someone that played the original free-to-play version on iOS. Marvel Puzzle Quest isn’t your typical match three game, and lets you unlock and create a team from the Marvel Super Heroes roster through story-driven gameplay. The range of heroes is diverse — from Iron Man, Thor, Wolverine, Hawkeye, and many more. Additionally, you’ll be battling an equally diverse host of Super Villains from the Marvel universe.
Those that have played the original free-to-play version of this game on Android, iOS or Facebook probably remember it as I do: an addictive and fun game, but not being bound by the limitations of the mobile game, Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign will immediately feel like a whole new game on the console versions. The game comes packed with a better story, and in light of my time with the game it feels like one that you can either pick up and invest a few minutes in if you need a quick game or two but then also something that you can and will probably want to, spend hours upon hours playing.
The use of Marvel licensing breathes some much needed life into the match-3 genre and helps Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign appeal to novices and hardcore fans of the genre alike. For novices, the appeal of the Marvel characters and story will surely help to draw in gamers who perhaps have never played a match-3 game before because the genre doesn’t have as much popularity in recent times but it’s the Marvel licensing definitely acts as a draw for new players to test the game out. For hardcore fans, you’ll be treated to a surprisingly rich and deep match-3 game with Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign as the game features something not present on any other match-3 game I’ve played: a specialised level-up system which gives the game a richer feel of progression and you take your favourite heroes into battle to further progress and develop them.
Thanks to the ability to take a team of 3 of your favourite heroes into a battle, the game has a very special feature indeed in the form of team-up moves. Team-ups allow three additional characters to fight by your side and deliver a well-timed devastating blow to the enemy you’re facing! Each team-up power brought into battle is a single use ability, and must be powered by matching team-up tiles. This adds another layer of gameplay to the game that makes it unlike other basic match-3 games as you actively seek to try and match up your team-move tiles in order to deal a deadly blow and help defeat the level quicker.
Another great thing about the console version of the game as opposed to the free-to-play mobile version is the updated art style. The characters feature different appearances ranging from classic to modern hero costumes which should at least appease new and old fans of the Marvel universe alike and the character cut-outs look solid and makes does justice to the use of Marvel licensing. The special abilities have nice, smooth animations which, while small details, go quite a long way in keeping you immersed in the game. Although visuals and graphics aren’t a major part of any match-3 games we salute D3 and Marvel for taking the effort to make such a striking art style for the console version here instead of a cheap port of the f2p mobile version.
One gripe with the game is the lack of voice-overs which we feel would’ve made this game that much better. The Marvel universe characters are so rich and have likeable personalities such as the arrogant yet charming Iron Man, or the young and witty Spiderman, we feel like voice-overs. We would have loved to seen a game like this with original voice-overs similar to the new Lego Marvel game but given the fact that Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign has its own separate story from the Marvel cinematic universe we know this is very unlikely. However, the pleasing visuals and deep gameplay mechanics make this game worth your time whether you’re a novice or a harcore match-3 fan.
+ Classic match-3 gameplay fused with the appeal and popularity of the Marvel universe
+ A wide roster of both heroes and villains provide much needed variety for the genre
+ Stays true to the Dark Reign comics
+ Pleasing visuals and animations
– Lack of voice-overs
Final Score: 8/10