Best RPG: Puzzle Quest

There used to be a time in my life, very early on in my teenage years, where I would be obsessed with finding the best RPG. I was looking for a game that one could spend a lifetime playing, one which had a perfect system and gave player the widest range of options.

It had to end how it ended: I came up empty handed and illusionless. Perfect RPG (nor perfect strategy) did not exist. The better and more robust system I found, the more boring the game turned out to be. I found tons of peculiarities, but no clear winner. Although the Wizardry series came very very close.

Years later I played Puzzle Quest and realized that this could well be very close to what I was looking for. Even now, years later, I amazed at how well-rounded and rich the Puzzle Quest experience is. I own several copies of the game, including a pre-release build I was sent by the developers, but I find the DS edition far superior to the others, even if it does not contain the XBLA datadisk nor the PC and XBOX patches which came out later after release.

The game world in Puzzle Quest is very solid in terms of lore, as it builds on the foundations of the famed, yet likely deceased Warlords series. The world is quite large and the story has literally tons of content to play through. There are loads of neat touches in Puzzle Quest and character dialogues are among them. Instead of boring fillers, the dialogues are quite tongue in cheek. In fact the same applies to quests. For example, there is a quest where two brothers are constantly stealing each others things and you have to go fetch them. this is a definite wink to the hated FedEx quest type, as you are made aware, the fetching will chain for some time and in quite an unscrupulous way. The quest works, though, as the dialogue is great and you are always looking forward to whatever excuse the character comes up with in order to send you back to wherever you just came from.

The other reason why the dialogue works so well is that you are made to feel like you are part of the game world. Although the quest is definitely epic in its end-span, throughout the story you slowly work your way from encounter to encounter, from event to event and it is the minute-to-minute gameplay that drives you, not a promise of eternal fame or a kingdom to become yours.

Having said that, the core gameplay in Puzzle Quest is as addicting as a videogame can ever be, crafting together Jewel Quest and a sick fireball here, lighnting storm there RPG system. It does not just work well. It works exceedingly well. If not better than at leat on par with Diablo 2. You get the idea.

It is not just the plot, dialogue lines or the core gameplay that make this game shine. It is the unendning amount of actions you can perform in the game world and the impact you can have. Every city there is you can Siege and make your own. Every piece of ruin you can search for runes, which you may then attempt to combine to craft customized and powerfull items. You may capture the creatures you encounter and interrogate them in order to learn new spells. You can obtain mounts, moreover, you can use them in battle and you can spend time training these mounts to provide incremental bonuses to your character. You can build your own citadel and spend coin to buy some of your skills.

The variety just doesn't stop. With 4 unique character classes, Puzzle Quest cements the replayability and takes a very secure place ont the list of my favourite RPG titles. Also, as a hand-held title, the game may be played anywhere, anytime, in long binge sessions or brief casual snaps.

A damn good game that is!