| Dungeon Raid
Dungeon Raid tells a good joke, but the punchline doesn’t hit until the second or third time you start a new game.
While the game retains an identical mix of match-three puzzler mechanics and role-playing elements, every time you play it the opening scene varies with each attempt.
You’re a pig farmer on a quest - no, you’re a criminal fulfilling your community service.
It’s a knowing nod towards the arbitrary nature of most fantasy storylines, but it also highlights the game’s fundamental weakness.Link’s awakening
Things start brightly with a nice approachable take on match-three adventuring, as pioneered by Puzzle Quest. Your goal is to attack your enemy by matching three or more blocks on a 2D game grid.
The key difference here is that you match blocks by linking them together with your finger. As long as they’re adjacent to each other (vertically, horizontally, or diagonally) they can be linked, which results in sprawling chains the length of the screen – and often back again.
Each type of block has its own properties. Swords are your main attack option and must be linked with your enemies, who take the form of skull blocks. The more swords are included in the chain, the stronger your attack.
Potion blocks restore health (the enemy attacks after each of your turns), shield blocks repair your armour, and coins permit you to buy new equipment.An awkward match
Every so often you're allowed to upgrade your abilities, whether that’s buying a new weapon or choosing a new skill upon levelling up. While these traditional RPG trappings serve to liven up the fairly lightweight match-three action, they seem superfluous in the context of the game’s structure.
There’s no expansive fantasy world here or optional quests on which to embark. Each game consists of a simple Endless mode, whereby you keep matching blocks until you lose all your health. At the end, your score is totted up and placed on a leaderboard (local only - online rankings are curiously absent).
It’s a familiar approach for an iPhone game, but it doesn’t sit all that comfortably with the carefully constructed role-playing systems. It serves to cheapen the character-progression element to the point where you stop paying attention to it. When your character is so disposable, why invest anything into its creation?
While the core mechanics are undoubtedly fun, though, the match-three action and RPG trimmings aren't rooted in a sufficiently solid structure to keep you coming back for more.