Puzzle Quest Chapter 1 & 2

Developer: TransGaming
Price (as reviewed): £4.99 / $7.99 from the AppStore

If we were trying to sum PuzzleQuest up in a single sentence, we’d say that it’s a fantasy RPG version of Popcap’s puzzle game, BeJewelled. You might think that sounds like an odd combo and you’d be right. It is odd. It’s also addictive, colourful and loads of fun.

Combat forms the bulk of the game and it’s here that the RPG-puzzle hybrid is most blatantly manifested, as you battle foes via a screen full of tiles and skulls. As in BeJewelled matching up different coloured gems in rows of three or more makes them vanish, only for more to drop into the grid from above. What make Puzzle Quest a little different though is what the gems do – in this case providing you mana to cast spells with, earning you XP or damaging your opponent depending on what the tile is.

There’s also the matter of your foe too, who’ll be seeking to damage you and gather XP and mana for himself – so striking a balance between hurting him and starving him of resources is vital if you want your character to survive long enough to see the other side of the world map.

iPhone and iPod Touch Games Round-up Puzzle Quest, Zen Bound iPhone and iPod Touch Games Round-up Puzzle Quest, Zen Bound

The more you play, the more complex the game can become too. In addition to levelling up and spending XP on bettering your stats you can capture enemies to learn spells, train mounts to travel faster, upgrade castles and even capture whole cities. Over time you’ll spread your influence far and wide, from the icy mountains to the burning desert – all just using your index finger.

Verdict: The mix of clever combat system, character development, gear shopping, pleasing art style and decent - if a bit cliché - storyline all culminate to a very addictive game.

Zen Bound

Developer: Chillingo Ltd
Price: £2.99 / $4.99 from AppStoreiPhone and iPod Touch Games Round-up Puzzle Quest, Zen Bound

Zen Bound is one of the more unique and stylised games on the iPhone, proving more of a meditative tool than a game in any real sense. The aim is to wrap wooden, free-floating objects up in rope as completely as you can. We have no idea why.

Each line of rope you lay down over the timber adds a layer of paint to the object, with the eventual goal being to cover up as much of the sculpture as possible without using more than 50m of rope and still having enough slack to tie your twine off at the end. There are three different goals for each sculpture, each demanding a different percentage of the idol be painted, and the trophy for each success is a flower or a lit lantern that will light the way to the next puzzle.

Zen Bound is a trifle baffling and bizarre then, with not game over screen or apparent logic to the task, but that’s part of the appeal. As a game it’s indistinct and confused, but as an experience it’s strangely serene and soothing. The calm pace of the gameplay and subdued presentation mesh perfectly with the soundtrack by Ghost Monkey, which is evocative of Bowie’s Moss Garden and available as a free download.

Zen Bound is arguably a bit of a hard sell to traditional gaming fans who might be put off by the nonsensical structure, but there’s always the Lite version for sceptics. Besides, it still manages to make more sense than most Japanese RPGs.

Verdict: Smooth and strangely alluring, Zen Bound is a great way to calm your spirit and offers an unusual amount of replayability for a fairly short puzzle game.
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