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Review: Jewel Quest





Table of Contents

Quick Information

Rating: Pretty Fun
Gore & Brutality Magic Sex Civility Religion
1 0 0 1 1
Age Rating Suitable for children 6 years old and older
License: Commercial
System used: Martha
Available From: Steam

Game Screenshots


Later levels turn the board to silver before it becomes golden


The Cursed Mask makes things trickier


Skulls adorn the last area of the story

General Notes

The Jewel Quest series, as a whole, is a great collection of games that tell their stories using a traditional Match 3 style of gameplay, and it's definitely one that fans of that genre should check out.

That said, the first game of the series was a bit on the shaky side, though that's pretty much something to be expected. In most cases, developers produce better quality games as they continue a series, and Jewel Quest wasn't an exception. Still, it's worth playing through the game at least the first time.

Story Summary

One day while working at the university, you find yourself drawn back to the memories of your first attempt at finding the legendary Jeweled Board and to the journal you'd made about your progress. After some hesitation, you decide to try again and begin a journey into old and forgotten Mayan legends.

As the you clear the boards you're given, various Mayan idols are restored from crude stone into their proper golden appearance, and eventually the deities they represent will send you towards the next leg of your journey.

Gameplay Summary

The gameplay is your standard Match 3 style with a small change. Every time you clear a group of game pieces, the tiles behind them turn into gold. To complete the level, every tile on the board must be changed into gold.

Later on, other obstacles begin to appear, such as buried tiles that need to be matched multiple times before they can be moved or cleared, and later still you'll encounter the Cursed Mask, a game piece that turns tiles back into paper when you match it. Still later, the board turns to silver instead of gold, and you must perform a match over each tile twice to complete the levels.

Pros

Matching for a story
As you clear the boards, the current deity is restored and the journey to find the fabled Jeweled Board continues. This is a good and simple way to provide motivation for playing further, and it works fairly well -- or at least it does until you're tasked with doing everything over again.


Unexpected voice acting
The last deity actually has spoken lines when you clear his final board. None of the other levels features this, so it's a bit jarring if you're not expecting it.


Cons

First game blues
It's fairly typical that the first game in a series isn't as smooth or as high quality as what came after it, and Jewel Quest isn't an exception. The big quality difference between this game and the others is found with the smoothness of the gameplay. Here you might end up waiting for things to finish clearing before you can take your next turn, while later games drop the gems quicker and feel more fluid overall. Another example is that this game won't let you move gems into empty spots, which would be useful in many of the levels.


Repetitive levels
After you clear all of the levels for the first time, the story is effectively over. However, you'll now be tasked with clearing them all again with an extra obstacle (such as the Cursed Mask or having to turn the board to silver before it can become golden). This basically means you'll need to play each level several times before the game is "beaten", and it's just not worth the effort.


Concerns and Issues

Mayan gods lead the way
To find the legendary Jeweled Board, you must first restore the idols of various Mayan gods by clearing other jeweled boards. While it helps the protagonist move towards their goal, it's also a little unsettling that you need to deal with spirits to do it.


Skulls line the last area
While most of the regions you'll visit are places like a study or a mysterious cave, the last area is bordered by a pool a lava and decorated with impaled human skulls. This area's statue is also holding up his hands as if to warn you away.


Motivation decay
Originally the protagonist's motivation for finding the Jeweled Board was scholarly acclaim and the archaeological value of the treasure. However, after finding it, the story changes to superstitious and greedy ramblings, as if the wealth provided by the boards drove the player's character mad with greed.


The protagonist seems to lose it after finding the Jewel Board's secrets
The first time around, you get a bit of story between levels. After finding the Jeweled Board, these snippets are replaced by quotes and ramblings, some of which are borderline psychotic. For example, one states that there is a legend that if you use water to wash a Sapphire, the water would be able to cure the poison from a scorpion. Reciting random superstitions is one thing, but the protagonist continues, musing about testing this sapphire water antidote theory on some of his grad students.