Puzzle & Dragons Gold Review – Not Worth A Thousand Free Gacha Spins

    Title: Puzzle & Dragons Gold
    Developer: Gungho
    Release Date: January 15, 2020
    Reviewed On: Switch
    Publisher: Gungho
    Genre: Match Three

Puzzle & Dragons is a free-to-play mobile RPG where players fight through dungeons and fight using an elemental matching mechanic. Players can collect units through a gacha and evolve their units as they become stronger, allowing you to take on tougher quests. It’s very well known for its vast amount of limited collaborations, and its matching color formula of gameplay has inspired a variety of clones on the mobile market.

What happens though, when you take a formula made for casual mobile play and try to tweak it into a focus on PvP content? Well, you get a game in some pressing need for single-player progression known as Puzzle & Dragons Gold.

& is an almost exclusively PVP game that pits you and others from around the world in a turn-based monster-fighting bout. Turns are broken up into two phases, a skill phase, and a battle phase. During the skill phase, you’ll pick a skill of your choice from your monsters before entering the battle phase.

In the battle phase, you pick an orb on the 6×6 grid and drag it to create matching groups that will vanish. Match multiple groups, and you’ll create combos that will power up your attack. Rinse and repeat each turn until all of your opponent’s life bars are gone, and you’ll be the victor.

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There’s a substantial amount of depth to the combat with different monsters having their own skills that affect your orbs, as well as the raw stats changing which colors you’ll want to match. You’ll pick out your main monster, which has fancy CG animations, and then your next five are relegated to impacting your stats and skill spread.

However, you won’t start with any of these options as you’ll only have two preset teams. To get more monsters, you’ll have to play through the story to unlock more preset teams, and earn experience to level up and gain rainbow orbs which can be used in the game’s gacha system. Dump rainbow orbs into the dragon statue, and you’ll get yourself a tasty new monster to add to your collection, with story teams netting you new leads.

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Usually, I would open up with something about the game’s story, but this title’s story is nothing short of pathetic, that I would hesitate even to call a story. You chose to play as either Taiga or Ryuji, the two leads from the tie-in anime, and use their preset teams to compete in the Puzzle and Dragons tournament. The end. There is a ‘massive’ total of 8 battles to be found here, and then you’re done with everything the game has to offer you. It is distressingly little in the way of a progression system.

There are only two original forms of progression you have outside of this. The first is your player level, which nets you more gems, which you can exchange for new monsters. The second is that fact you can unlock two other skills for lead monsters. While they do add some extra depth to the game’s system, none of these change the way the game plays and feels like a lot of effort for very little return

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It took me a while to pick up the game’s battle system due to my being a foreigner to this franchise, but once I figured out how to play the game, I got very, very tired, very very quickly. & seems to be a game made for fans who can get behind this battle system, but with no real characters or a reason to really play, I had no incentive to care once I’d cleared out the story battles. PVP is kind of fun, but really only in short bursts. Maybe if the game had collaboration monsters or some sort of monster leveling system I could care just a little more.

Score:
5/10
A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Jacob Kavanagh

Staff Writer - Illusions to illusions. Will solve murder mysteries for money so he can buy more murder mysteries. @JacobPFZE on twitter