Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign, from the developer Demiurge Studios, is a variant of the game Puzzle Quest, a gem-matching puzzler with RPG elements. Some mechanics have been altered to fit the game into the Free-to-play model, however, the simplistic core gameplay remains virtually unchanged – enter a battlefield with your chosen hero characters, and then match up lines of three or more gems of the same colour to attack your enemies, with the goal of lowering their health to zero, before they do the same to you.
Initially I had avoided the game, being skeptical of its F2P model, having heard complaints of it being pay-to-win. However my skepticism proved to be unfounded. Everything ingame can be unlocked with minimal effort (for the most part), and all without paying a single cent. And indeed the game does an amazing job drip feeding its players little chucks of carrots, with ingame currencies and free new playable characters being awarded at every possible turn.
Being definitely NOT a fan of mobile or F2P titles, I have to say my current addiction to this game surprised the heck out of me. But, at least I’m not playing Farmville or Candy Crush, thank god for that.
[EDITED 30/01/2014: The game was patched today (Data: 175039.0.175039), with changes to the gameplay which completely destroyed the Free-To-Play playability of the game for me. This game is now unfortunately absolutely Pay-To-Win. Previously you were given three chances to defeat your opponents in the live events, giving less powerful players the chance to rechallenge and wear down more powerful opponents with repeated attempts. If your opponents proved to be more powerful, you were also able to give up on a challenge before your three chances were used up without losing points or ranking on the leaderboards, giving even lower-tiered teams a decent change of earning high level tier rewards.
However with this patch you are now only given one single attempt per opponent, and you now immediately lose points and ranking placement upon losing. Experiences will vary, but from the few hours I have played since the patch I am sad to report that the team with the higher tier and level heroes will pretty much always win, giving the average player no chance of winning useful rewards unless they are willing to pay. NOT impressed at all.]
- Marvel license. All the Marvel characters you have grown to love (and hate), complete with alternate costumes.
Non-restrictive / non-intrusive Free-to-play gameplay.
- Evolving storylines – story events introduces regular new story elements and characters.
- Regular competitive events with tiered rewards.
- There are light strategy involved, but unfortunately most of the gameplay is heavily based on luck.
Competitive leaderboard gameplay requires minimal skills. The more you play, the more points you will accumulate, so basically the more time a player has the higher they will rank. This can get frustrating for the more casual players, or for those of us with jobs and lives.With the changes to the game it is now heavily biased towards players who are willing to pay. The main storymode is still playable for your average Free-To-Play player, but sadly it is no longer plausible for non-paying players to remain competitive in the live event portions of the game, which unfortunately is where all the new and more powerful and interesting characters are unlocked.