It's always refreshing to see genres blended in a different way. We've all played match-three puzzlers that add some RPG scrapping, but I don't remember playing a mash-up of a puzzler and Spelunky.
That's sort of what Puzzle to the Centre of the Earth is though. You match your way through levels, all the while leading a little adventurer deeper down towards the core of the planet.
There's gold to collect, treasure to find, and secrets to unlock. And it all feels smart, well put together, and different enough to at least raise a smile.
It's not without its problems, but most of them are small enough that you can just about get past them. And a smattering of new ideas ensures you've usually got something up your sleeve when you get stuck.
The aim of the game is discovery. You're a cheery explorer in a pith helmet stomping around a subterranean expanse that's made almost exclusively of differently coloured blocks.
You swipe a finger around a space at the bottom of the screen to move around, swiping left and right to scuttle, and up to leap onto other blocks.
Clearing a path is as simple as swiping on groups of three same-hued blocks. You can use diagonals, and once you lift your finger the blocks pop away, leaving a neat man-shaped hole to clamber through.
Blocks often contain extra treasure though. Green-glowing lumps are energy, and you need energy to make matches. Gold glowing lumps offer coins, which you can use to buy new equipment.
If you match six or more blocks of the same colour you get a red gem. You can use these to employ formulas, which let you match different coloured squares to to enable certain effects.
The first one you get lets you match blue, green, and red to create a big explosion that clears away a chunk of the level in one fell swoop.
Learning to use these powers at the right time is key to success. You can easily blow a hole in your plans if you're not paying attention, and if you're stood too close to the explosion you'll lose a portion of your health bar too.
You can get hurt if you fall too far as well, so working out a sensible plan to get down where you need to go is pretty important.
There's always something more to discover on the levels as well. You can usually get to the exit at the bottom without any hassle, but uncovering the secret switches, chests, and doors takes a little more ingenuity.
Am I going the right way?
The free to play mechanics here are pretty interesting too. Rather than buying currency, you can buy tools to help you on your journey. These cost 69p / 99c a pop, and you can find them on your journey as well.
It all mashes together to create an entertaining experience. There are difficulty spikes here and there, and the levels do tend to become a little samey from time to time, but they're rarely so bad that they feel unfair.Puzzle to the Center of the Earth blends its concepts well. It might not be as adventurous as Spelunky, or as puzzling as a true match-'em-up, but it pulls its ideas off well enough that it would be churlish to moan.