I've played and reviewed so many of them, that by this point I must concede I'm running out of ways to write about match-three puzzle games.
But if there's one thing that holds true about the long list of gem-matching puzzlers I've played for Pocket Gamer, then it has to be that presentation and input both have to be spot on to survive.
G5 Entertainment's swing at this form of puzzler is a solid one: Old Clockmaker's Riddle looks and sounds good, and play is as fast or as slow as you could possibly want for a take on the Bejeweled formula.
But it's not quite the full package that it could be, and is unlikely to replace Candy Crush Saga as the king of the genre any time soon.Unravelling the riddle
Old Clockmaker's Riddle follows the same recipe as any other match-three game.
There are icons on a playfield and you have to match them in horizontal or vertical rows of three or more. In the case of Old Clockmaker's Riddle, the icons are gems.
To beat a level you must complete a preset objective by matching said gems. In the case of Old Clockmaker's Riddle, you must match a number of gems that have clock hands on their surface.
If you're struggling to complete a level you can use special powers that have a strictly limited use. In the case of Old Clockmaker's Riddle, these include allowing you to remove individual gems without matching them as part of a pair, or remove all types of a gem from the board.
Matching more than three gems at once may mean that a special gem will appear in the play area. In the case of Old Clockmaker's Riddle, matching them with other gems of the same colour will cause them to explode, or wipe out the gems on the same column or row, or zap every gem of the same colour.
In the case of Old Clockmaker's Riddle, then, you see that similarities with other games in the genre keep on coming. If you're looking for the next evolution of this form of play, you're out of luck.I'm housin'
That's not to say there isn't any creativity. Optional bonus stages appear when you've completed a main level, and they're fiendishly hard puzzles that combine the fundamentals of match-three play, with the need for logic and an understanding of consequence.
I like the look and sound of it all too. It combines the calm creepiness of Puzzle Agent with sinister Victoriana steam-punk, plus the hypnotic tings and chings of gem stones colliding, the like of which you first heard back in Columns.
I have no complaints to levy at the controls either: the gems are large enough to be moved quickly, even on the small screen of a mobile device.
If Old Clockmaker's Riddle misses a trick, it's in its multiplayer: specifically that there isn't any. You can't compare how well you've done again your friends on levels, and there isn't any synchronous multiplayer either. It seems like a wasted opportunity, and after you're done with the single player there's little reason to stick around.
But hey, if you thought Bejeweled was the tops, or are after a premium Match 3 game with slick presentation, then Old Clockmaker's Riddle just might be for you.