Puzzle Trooper is a stylish puzzle battle game that mashes up the match-3 puzzler with turn-based combat together. Initiating the hybrid combination, Puzzle Trooper creates a casual strategic experience with cute cartoon style fighters and colorful balls-supported battles.
In Puzzle Trooper you take the role of a Commander leading a five-member squad to venture into several maps searching and defeating E.V.I.L. forces. Instead of directly giving attack orders to your troopers, you match same colored balls on the board to control your small squad. You will take on multiple waves of enemy attacks in each battle and survive to the end to win hefty rewards including Exp and various “material units” that can be used to further enhance your troopers.
Puzzle Trooper is a pick-up-and-play style of game. You will grasp all the essence by walking through the tutorial. When a battle starts, you have 6 seconds to make matches of at least three same colored balls in each turn and then the troopers of that color will then attack. Of course, you can make matches of more than one single color because of the free-style ball movement and chain of combos, so you can trigger a barrage of fire from more than one fighter and even rain all enemies with bullets simultaneously with big matches you made.
Matching in the game is not played in the classic swap-and-match pattern but allows you to move a single ball freely all over the board within 6s to create the best matches: crate a triple or even more combos to increase the damage, string 5 balls in a line to attack all enemy units, combine 6 or more to call for a bomb strike, and achieve the T, L or other shaped patterns to charge up troopers to unlock their special skills. Attack is turn-based but the turn is not evenly alternating between your squad and the enemy. You have the advantage to attack first and attack couples of rounds without enemy’s retribution, for enemy attacks only when their turn counter reduces to zero.
While horning pure matching skills, you can win more effectively if you pay attention to several other factors. First, all fighting units including the enemy are color-coded and categorized into five classes and the differently colored classes are in the classic rock-paper-scissor pattern. Red units deal 2x damage against Green, Green has the same advantage over Blue, and then Blue against Red; and Purple and Yellow are effective against each other. So selective matches of the right color offer an edge in a fight. Then, you need to pay attention to the squad HP, especially when taking on the boss of final wave, and make timely recovery by matching and collecting the Med kits while battling. And last, while you push back the E.V.I.L. forces irresistibly, don’t forget to constantly level up your troopers at the interval.
Trooper development is important and crafted meticulously by the developers. Victory in battles rewards you with new troopers and some “material units” that can be sacrificed to level up your favorite troopers to the maximum and then evolve the powerful further to unleash true potential. But collecting the upgrading and evolution materials requires some grinding, which can be skipped only when you directly buy the materials with diamonds, the hard currency. And for the extra low-leveled troopers you have the option of selling them. Troopers are star-rated. While it takes time and resources to level up a trooper’s grade, it is a good way to participate in the special events regularly held during weekends which offers a higher drop rate of the powerful fighter.
Puzzle Trooper is mainly a single-player campaign with 6 maps unique in shapes and enemies to battle through. It does integrate some shallow social elements: you can add friends and borrow their leaders using the leaders’ special skills in every battle and if you don’t want to build a friend list you can simply select the squad leader of a random player.
Puzzle Trooper is overall a satisfactory game for casual fans with its stylish graphics, hybrid game mechanics and fast-paced matches. While there is still the money wall, it can be played and enjoyed for free with great fun.