Review: Rescue Quest Gold

What is it and who made it? Summoned forth by Boomzap Entertainment, makers of the multiplayer strategy conquest game Legends of Callasia, Rescue Quest Gold is a match-3 puzzler with a fantasy spellcasting twist.

How much did we play? 112 levels in 11.6 hours of total play time. I have made 6,732 matches and earned 57 of 59 achievements.

Why Should You Play It?

    + Free the Spritelings: Each level in Rescue Quest has one primary goal: to reach a locked cage holding captive magical Spritelings that need to be rescued. This is where the game’s main twist on the familiar match-3 formula comes into play. To free the Spritelings, you need to match colored tokens to break through background tiles on the puzzle map, which creates an open pathway for your apprentice magician to move from the opening portal to the imprisoned Spritelings. Your chosen hero’s avatar–you can play as either Boom or Zap, twin brother and sister wizards-in-training–automatically tracks to the cage, but at any time you can double-click on the grid to manually set a waypoint. This is an important mechanic to learn because the levels become quite large and sprawling, providing multiple routes to the end as well as different board features and collectibles you’ll need to target specifically along the way. Finding the quickest path is crucial, because most levels must be finished within a strict turn limit. Matching tokens requires a more careful, targeted approach.

    + Harry Potter Would Be Proud: Learned at level intervals throughout the story progression, five different spells are added to your repertoire as you complete an apprenticeship at Turnspell Academy and pursue your quest to save the world. Each spell is linked to a specific color, and charges up by matching corresponding tokens. Green tokens charge Pulverize, a hammer smash that crushes a targeted cluster of tokens in a cross shape. Red energy casts Magic Dart, which can be used to strike a single enemy or square on the puzzle grid. Purple charges the Swap spell so you can pick any two tokens on the entire board and swap their places. The yellow spell is Teleport, which allows you to instantly jump ahead to any empty space within a limited range. And finally blue tokens let you cast a Summon spell to spawn a magical bunny that hops around and makes tiles easier to crack so the path can be cleared with less matches. Charging the spells takes quite a few matches, so choosing the right moment to call upon your wizardry powers adds another layer of strategy.

    + Nice Variety: In addition to the spells, more traditional power-up tokens can be conjured by matching more than just three tokens. A match of four tokens creates a horizontal or vertical line slash. Matching five tokens in a row generates a Wild token, which can be used to clear all tokens of a single color. An area-of-effect bomb can also be created by matching tokens in a T or L pattern. Adjacent power-up tokens create combo spells that have a greater impact on clearing the board. On top of the primary goal of reaching the exit cage, some stages require secondary objectives, like collecting color-coded keys to open locked cages, head-to-head races to the finish against your sibling wizard, and enemy creatures that need to be defeated, such as Imps, Oozies, Yetis, and Spiders. The creatures don’t attack directly, but rather alter the puzzle board to make progress more challenging. Oozies, for example, leave behind trails of goo that steadily spread across the board unless cleared, while Yetis freeze tokens in ice and Spiders wrap tokens in sticky webs. Larger versions of these creatures even appear as boss battles. Later environments are shrouded in darkness that can be lit up by stepping on buttons that activate light crystals. You’ll also encounter walls of tokens that only clear after a certain amount of like-colored tokens are matched to fill up an energy pool. The game does a great job of constantly throwing new mechanics and obstacles at you to keep things fresh; new features are still being introduced over 100 levels in!

    + There’s a Ton of Game Here: Seriously. I spent about 10 hours completing the initial 100 story levels, only to be surprised by a continuation of the story for what appears to be at least another 100 levels. Upon finishing the first part, a bonus menu with a selection of expert race levels also becomes unlocked. This special edition for PC comes with some other extras as well, including concept art, wallpapers, avatars, downloadable soundtrack, and alternate costumes for Boom and Zap. Needless to say, you get plenty of bang for your buck here. And if you decide to go for the achievements for making 10,000 and 100,000 matches, you’ll be playing damn near until the end of time. To put those tasks into context, in my 11+ hours I’ve only managed a little over 6,000 matches. Yup, there’s a reason that 100k achievement currently has a 0% completion rate among the player base.

    + No Paywalls: Rescue Quest has all the markings of any other mobile match-3 puzzler found cluttering up app stores everywhere. However, since the game’s on Steam at a flat rate, there’s no hassling with the in-app purchases, lives counters, and other common barriers and limitations that muck up the mobile gaming experience. For a straight-up $10 purchase, you get hundreds of unhindered levels to puzzle through.

What Could Be Improved?

    – RNG Can Be a Drag: It wouldn’t be a proper match-3 puzzler without some influence from the old random number generator. However, with some of the deeper complexities brought on by the array of enemy types, obstacles, and props, the frustration of sometimes getting an unfavorable board cuts a little deeper, especially when factoring in the turn limit. I remember one race stage in particular where my opponent reached the exit before I could even get matching gems to get out of the opening gate area, and there weren’t enough matching opportunities elsewhere to charge up spells until it was already too late. Frankly, if 10 or more turns have gone by and you’ve barely been able to make any forward progress, it’s better to just restart with a fresh puzzle board rather than waste time going through the motions just to end in failure.

    – A Fast-Forward Button Would Be Handy: Once a puzzle’s been completed, you’re forced to watch any remaining end-game animation. For example, if you’ve collected multiple keys but haven’t opened the corresponding cages yet, if a path is clear for the avatar to finish the map you have to watch him/her walk and open all of the cages. It’d be nice to have a button to skip all of this and go immediately to the score recap screen instead of sitting through the animation. A recent update did add an optional setting for auto-completing levels, which means as soon as a path cleared all the way to the exit has been detected the game takes control and automatically finishes the stage. Unfortunately you’re still forced to watch Boom or Zap stroll across the board at a leisurely pace rather than the game immediately resolving that the puzzle is complete.

Final Thoughts: As bastardized as the genre has become thanks to mobile marketplace oversaturation, it doesn’t seem like there is much room left for match-3 innovation. Rescue Quest Gold, though rooted in traditional match-3 rules, does enough with its path-based puzzle board navigation and spellcasting mechanic to bring some magic back to the familiar routine of matching colored gems to score points and earn gold stars. Complemented by a cute storyline, the game offers hundreds of stages and dozens of potential gameplay hours. While the game is casual gamer friendly, it is a step up from the typical match-3 puzzler in terms of overall challenge and strategic depth.

BuyIt

Game Info:
Platform: PC
Publisher: Boomzap Entertainment
Developer: Boomzap Entertainment
Release Date: 6/5/2017
Genre: Puzzle
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Players: 1

Buy From: Steam for $9.99.

Disclosure: A Steam code for Rescue Quest Gold was provided to VGBlogger.com by Boomzap Entertainment.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!