Magic the Gathering: Puzzle Quest is an interesting concept; You use MtG cards to defeat enemies but instead of tapping lands to get mana in order to cast spells, you match gems on a board to get mana that goes to the use of your cards. Mana costs are now colorless and you can swap which card you’re going to play next. Instead of having a bunch of creatures on the board, you can stack identical monsters together - and there’s a limit of 3 types - and you’ll attack your opponent each turn with your available summons. The core concept is pretty cool, but it’s just a free to play mobile game with terrible monetization that made me hate it almost instantly.
The game starts simple enough with a tutorial fight where you learn about how cards work. It’s more or less identical to original MtG except that you work towards casting spells instead of needing enough lands immediately. Some support spells go on the field and are tied to gems - so you’ll want to destroy the gems linked to your opponent’s buffs while making matches. I’m not a huge fan of the small hand size because in many cases you won’t be able to get any creature up in time while your opponent might have a bunch already. The game went south for me almost immediately after the tutorial, when your enemy started to make matches. The computer always makes the best matches, it seems, way better than whatever the game will suggest you if you’re not sure what to do. Five in a rows with combos thrown for good measure. It feels a bit cheap, I wish the enemy would fight you differently than making matches.
The game’s UI feels cheap in a different way, very simple geometric shapes and images thrown here and there. I usually wouldn’t comment on stuff like this, but it was jarring to me, especially the booster pack UI. You have to buy boosters or craft them with a bunch of different currencies and your cards and characters can level-up, adding another layer of complexity over the whole thing. I enjoyed the concept of fights having different objectives, like defeating an enemy with decks from all five colors, taking more or less than some amount of damage, but I really never managed to get to that point.
The hit points you lose during fights don’t come back after the battle, they’re on a timer to slowly regenerate. What a terrible idea.