Puzzle Quest: Galactrix

Following the amazing success of Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords, which I and countless others found hopelessly addictive, a sequel was always going to be an exciting prospect. Galactrix disposes of the old world of dragons and mythical creatures and instead throws you into a world of spaceships, diplomacy and countless galaxies to explore. Your hero is part of MRI, a company which initiated the leapgate system which allows you to travel throughout the galaxies, and is accompanied by numerous crew members that you collect along your way if following the main quest.

Although Galactrix is similar in many ways to the original, a lot of work has gone in to making this feel like a completely different experience, enhancing many of the features and creating a game that has far more of a RPG feel than before. With numerous cut scenes the story is far more immersive, with the speech between characters being far more carefully thought out with a less is more approach. Additionally, a diplomacy system has been created with many different factions and alien races changing their opinion of you according to who you fight. This is shown by colouring the paths between galaxies to show whether you are in friendly territory or whether your very presence will mean constant attack.

The fighting system seems vastly similar at first, with the only change being the shape of the grid. Once looking like a Bejeweled style square drop down system, Galactrix employs a grid resembling Hexic, using hexagonal pieces instead. Although this would appear to make little difference on the face of it, it means that additional pieces can come in from six directions. This actually creates a far more tactical system as whether you move a piece down to make a chain or decide to move the wrong piece up, whilst creating the same effect, will alter the direction of the incoming pieces and therefore change the playing board in different ways. This new system does take time to adjust to and is likely to make people yell at the screen as they once again moved a piece without thinking of the direction, but once you learn from your mistakes you will soon find yourself making tactical moves without even thinking about it.

There is still a variety of puzzles on offer, with each additional crew member opening up the option to try something new. These vary from mining in order to get supplies to hacking leapgates to continue your journey. You can even haggle your way to a discount or find out rumours that may open new missions. Hacking leapgates, whilst an essential part of the game (you get almost instantly thrown into opening the first one) is extremely frustrating and even the “easy” gates require a lot of concentration and more yelling at the screen if you haven’t mastered your directional skills yet. This puzzle is the only one that is timed and although you must do it to progress is definitely the most stressful part of the Galactrix experience!

Your hero fights with the aid of your ship, using it’s abilities in a similar way to spellcasting in the first game. Ships can be upgraded by buying new spells or by crafting them using items picked up from combat or from mining. Additionally, new ships can be picked up on your journey allowing you to pick your ship out of the three slots available. Although this would seem like a tactical decision it just isn’t – if it’s new then it’s better in my experience so always change when possible.

Like the original, Galactrix limits how many missions you can take on at one time, but with an entire universe to explore the paltry four slots available just aren’t enough as most missions involve travelling around to a far greater degree than before. I found this to be a constant frustration and an additional few slots would really have improved the game play here.

The game itself is far bigger than could even be hoped for with it easily earning it’s hefty price tag of 1,600 Microsoft points. With a very large map to begin with, each spot does not represent a place but usually around 6 planets/asteroids/space stations meaning each area has multiple puzzles even before you hit the missions. Additionally the online aspect of Galactrix can now handle up to four players and has been made a far larger part of the game than in the original with achievement points there for those who have really earned it (multiple ranked wins are now necessary so feel free to challenge everyone you know playing it!).







5 responses to “Puzzle Quest: Galactrix”

  1. GamerGeekGirl avatar

    I don’t get why every review complains about the leapgates :/ I’ve never had any problem with any of them…

    That said, I agree wholeheartedly about it being awkward to get into… the tutorial is kinda shitty and not very explanatory – and it’s less obvious how everything works…

    Rather than 4 mana-types you have 3 skill-types, which are used to “operate machinery” in the way spells were cast in the original.

    To be honest, the one thing I miss about the original is the customisation – I liked picking a class and there being differences in spells gained and how easy it was to level up different attributes… but there is none of that in Galactrix – there are four skills, level up each one how you want – they’re all one point no matter who you are. There doesn’t seem to be difficulty levels either unless I missed them somewhere?

    It is a good game though, just a shame in a lot of ways it doesn’t live up to Challenge of the Warlords…

  2. Jake avatar

    I find the leapgates tedious rather than hard… mainly because there’s nothing to be gained other than a new system. A teensy bit of experience would be nice.

    Having got all the psi-powers, I do like the fact that I can avoid ship combat whenever I like now… some of the random encounters I’ve had have been stupidly hard prior to getting my skills!

  3. Kirsten avatar

    Not loving the leapgates either. Oh and I find if you play the game for five hours you start to feel sick. Behind the gem swapping screen the background drifts around and it’ll eventually start affecting your balance. Probably shouldn’t play it for five hours though regardless of that.

  4. Jake avatar

    I have not yet felt sick… I feel cheated. I don’t think I’ve played in such a long stint mind… I have to play it when Carole isn’t looking because of the time I had to make her go cold turkey from jewel quest. Seriously, it’s like living with an addict.

  5. dante76 avatar

    Not as addictive as the original, but seems to make my eyes bleed more…

    Not as inclined to rearrange furniture into gem columns irl.

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