Puzzle Craft is a town-building free-to-play game with a twist. Instead of waiting for timers to come up (or usually, buying an instant complete), a Match 3 or more puzzle element is introduced. If you enjoy match three puzzles, it’s a real treat not to be missed. Matching puzzles instead of waiting for timers is an ingenious spin on town-building and allowing town upgrades to boost your puzzle matching creates a synergy that is fresh and fun.
Puzzle Craft is a free to play game that uses only one currency in the game. Real money can be used to purchase in-game currency and then the in-game currency can be used to by helpful items and upgrades.
As a match 3 puzzle fan, I never felt the slightest inclination to spend money, in fact, most of the time I had more money than I knew what to do with. Experience Points (XP) is what really drives the game. Only once I started paying attention to the collectible items that provide an XP boost did I start spending my hundreds of thousands of coins on buying chests to unlock the collectables inside, but even then I had plenty of coins and never considered buying more.
Puzzle Craft is very accessible if you have photophobia, motion sickness, blurred vision, visual loss or a colour vision deficiency. It has almost no flicker, flash or other bright visual effects, a static screen with no scrolling except inside the trophy hall and although the text is quite small on smaller mobile phone screens, the interactive elements are generally distinct and easy to spot.
Match three games often have a colour component and although the farm has distinctive shapes that make colour irrelevant, the mine does make use of colour to differentiate between different items. The colours used are white, grey, black, gold, brown and some of the ores are different shapes, reducing the colour recognition to telling the difference between black and grey, which are identical and white and gold which are very similar.
Sound effects do help visually impaired and colour blind players as distinctive cues sound to indicate when tiles are matched and there’s a click whenever a button is tapped.
It plays as easily with no sound with it and there are visual cues to match all audio cues.
It is generally accessible with no timed requirement at any point, but some precision is required as well as the ability to effectively use a touch screen. I did have two minor recurring issues in particular.
The two matching game icons are located near the edge of the screen and I frequently struggled to tap on them accurately, making it difficult to access the mine and farm.
The matching mechanism requires first a press and hold and then drag a pattern across the highlighted items. It is quite a hard press and I frequently struggled to get it right and for anyone who has difficulty with dragging, Puzzle Craft will not be playable. An alternative option to tap out a path instead of dragging would have been extremely helpful.
As long as players can tap, hold and drag on a touch screen, Puzzle Craft is an accessible game to play.
Cognitive Accessibility and Younger Audience
Puzzle Craft is reasonably accessible for anyone with cognitive issues. The language used is preschool level, but the use of icons throughout the game makes it easy to play even without reading any of the text and writing is not required at any point. There is not much of a memory requirement as icons as icons are clear and within the matching games tapping on the ? in the menu provides an index of the abilities.
There is a basic mathematical requirement of being able to match up to ten items and manage a budget as well as a basic item inventory. My almost three year old really enjoyed helping me with the match three puzzles once I was about mid-way through the game and we only had to match 3-5 items to get the bonus item.
The game menu, mechanics, plot and game controls are visually signposted and well-designed and the extensive use of icons makes it particularly accessible to anyone with dyslexia or other language based impairments.
- Sound on/off toggle
- Music on/off toggle
- Option to redeem or reset
Puzzle Craft combines two game genres to create a charming and fun game that has many hours of enjoyment for anyone who enjoys matching games. The building part is almost inconsequential except that it adds a deeper level of satisfaction when completing the puzzle element as rewards transfer from one to the other. It is a generally accessible game with a relatively low bar to entry. It is also an excellent demonstration of how to do a free-to-play title well. I highly recommend it to everyone, except those who dislike match 3 puzzles as that is what Puzzle Craft is really about.
[stars rating=”4″ type=”Game”]
Product: Puzzle Craft | Developer: Ars Thanea Games | Publisher: Chillingo | Platform: Android, iOS | Release Date: August 2012 | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | Genre: Town-building, Match 3 Puzzle | Content Rating: 4+ Apple