GDC '08: Puzzle Quest: Galactrix First Look

Fans of last year's role-playing puzzle romp, take note: Its sci-fi-themed follow-up is on the way in just a few months.

by

If you're one of the many people who was delightfully surprised last year by Infinite Interactive's excellent Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords, you'll be equally delighted to know the company is working on a new hybrid puzzle/role-playing game in the same vein called Galactrix, which is slated for release later this year. Publisher D3 has rather shamelessly slapped the Puzzle Quest moniker on the front of the title, understandably to garner brand recognition among fans of last year's medieval mash-up. While Galactrix was already in development at the time of Puzzle Quest's release, it does share most of the latter game's mechanical trappings, wrapped up in a new sci-fi milieu that looks like it will provide the impetus for a quest much wider in scope.

The story (if you really need one) is set in the far-distant future, after mankind has colonized the stars. Four gigantic megacorporations are now running the galactic show, and one of them has gotten a little too big for its collective britches by conducting some unknown experiments that will potentially have dire consequences for mankind. If all this sounds a little vague, it's because D3 reps wouldn't go into specifics on the storyline (or most aspects of Galactrix, actually). We do know you'll play as a novice pilot who will become more skilled and powerful as you get closer to discovering, as well as vanquishing, the secret of the nefarious experiments.

A ship-building system will let you customize your fleet to take on different battle conditions.

What we can tell you is that Galactrix's core puzzle-based gameplay will be eminently familiar to anyone who played even a few minutes of Puzzle Quest because the Bejeweled-style match-three gameplay of that game is fully in evidence here. But there are a few differences. First, the tiles are now hexagonally shaped and arranged in a corresponding hexagonal grid, which gives you more than four sides surrounding the board. That might not seem like a big deal until you figure that gravity itself can play a part in the way the pieces fall. If you're fighting a match in orbit around a planet, the planet's gravitational pull will cause the pieces to always fall downward. But if you've engaged your enemy in open space, where there's no gravity, new pieces will slide in from whatever direction you made your move (due to momentum, natch).

The basic contents of a puzzle board in Galactrix are quite similar to those in Puzzle Quest. You're matching three of a kind of various tiles colored red, yellow, green, blue, purple, and silver. Red, yellow, and green correspond to your weapons, engines, and ship computer. Mechanically, they act like the mana you used in Puzzle Quest because they'll power the various weapons and abilities of your ships in battle. The only special ability we got D3 to talk about was disruptor, which will prevent your opponent's shields from recharging for a few turns.

Blue tokens will recharge your own shields when you match them. Purple ones represent "psi power," which sounds a bit like the experience tokens in Puzzle Quest. However, your psi rating will also directly affect subsequent minigames and non-player character interactions outside of battles. Silver tiles are for intel; the more of these you match, the more scuttlebutt and information you'll be able to collect as you travel from one star system to the next. Lastly, the attack tiles (represented by skulls in Puzzle Quest) have evolved here. They're now numbered, and the base damage you do by matching them will be a sum of the numbering on all the attack tiles you've matched.

What mysteries await our intrepid hero at the far ends of the galaxy?

D3 was only focusing on the core puzzle gameplay in Galactrix during our demo, so that's all we got to see firsthand. But in talking with company reps, we discovered there will be more going on between battles here than there was in Puzzle Quest. That game took place only on a single world map, but in Galactrix, your quest will span planets, star systems--and perhaps even the entire galaxy. A number of other gameplay systems will underpin your mission. There's a diplomacy system that will track your standing with various factions throughout your interstellar travels, governing the interactions you're able to have with them. A commodity system will tally your income and dictate what resources you're able to amass to assist your offensive effort. And, there will be ship building, allowing you to collect blueprints you can use to construct new and varied ships for your fleet then customize their weaponry for different kinds of enemy encounters.

We got to see Galactrix on the PC, where it's looking sharp in high resolution. Versions are also confirmed for later this year on the Nintendo DS and Xbox Live Arcade. Disturbingly, D3 wouldn't confirm a PSP edition of the game. That was disappointing to us because we preferred the PSP version of Puzzle Quest for its mix of portability, as well as superior graphics and music over the DS game. However, Infinite's official Galactrix page still lists a PSP version in development (as well as a possible OSX port), so we'll cross our fingers. At any rate, Galactrix looks and sounds like an intriguing follow-up to Puzzle Quest, so we're excited to get our hands on it for ourselves--whatever platform we end up playing it on.

Discussion

76 comments
Payback7
Payback7

OMG!! Bring it on! Loved the first one, can't wait to give this one a go - love the sci-fi too :)

Nehine
Nehine

I just bought Puzzle Quest and I love it! This game looks to me like a combination of Hexic and Puzzle Quest... I'll wait before buying it, for now i'm happy with the PQ i just bought :)

jakob_187
jakob_187

In essence, the game looks like all the great depth of play that was in Puzzle Quest mixed with the awesome design of Hexic from XBLA. I can only imagine the possibilities after this game comes out. I'm still interested in seeing them play around with the Wii-mote and making a really cool interactive type of puzzle game.

Lucidmike78
Lucidmike78

Hmm, these games with hexagon shapes in a circle were always boring to me but....since its puzzle quest, I'll give them more than a descent shot.

Lumenadducere
Lumenadducere

Heh, good stuff. If it's got a longer single-player than the first I'll definitely be picking this one up.

-DirtySanchez-
-DirtySanchez-

i might give thsi one a chance, i loved the other for 360, not sure about the scifiness tho, i hope this doesnt mean they changed their mind and wont release new content for the last one, as that was a big sellin point to me

novicegamplagrl
novicegamplagrl

Enjoyed the first one, hope it will make it to the PSP.

Lord_Pisces
Lord_Pisces

I will be buying this. End of discussion.

TallicaFan2005
TallicaFan2005

Puzzle Quest is one of the best games I've played recently, so I can't freaking wait for this!!

trancejeremy
trancejeremy

It says "Also on PSP" because last year there were plans to put it on the PSP. But that was before they had a publisher for the game. Now that they do have a publisher, we learn in the article that that publisher has no plans for a PSP version, only DS (and PC/XBLA)

Dualmask
Dualmask

@ nichjehl: Yeah, I missed that the first time I read it. I had to come back to confirm. I can understand why the PSP version would probably be secondary because it's likely the DS version sold better, but it's good to know this is going to be on PSP.

nichjehl
nichjehl

guys, it says right up there "Also on: PSP"

Dualmask
Dualmask

This really needs to be on PSP. I've gotten countless hours of enjoyment out of the first Puzzle Quest, and I'm going to be all over this one. I'd greatly prefer it to be portable, but if it came out on PS3/PSN or the Wii, I wouldn't complain much.

aliss77777
aliss77777

if this game doesn't come out on psp, it will be a CRIME! a CRAZY FORCE! and EVERYBODY will say that the person(s) responsible is a CRAZY MAN, a MADMAN, a BAD BOY

Sarazar
Sarazar

It's like Pokemon... but not... and with more puzzles... and questing... and spaceships!!!!! Sweet.

hugey
hugey

man! another puzzle quest game to give me headaches.. woohoo!! :)

RedKnight13
RedKnight13

that looks SO much sweeter than puzzle quest. not that graphics really mattered in the original, but it is gonna be SO much better if it looks this nice (i know, im shallow)

teknicz
teknicz

I dread the days wasted as soon as this comes out. I spent many an hour on the original Puzzle Quest, I hope it's every bit as good.

Brotto
Brotto

I really hope they bring it on the PSP.

ahyumifan
ahyumifan

OMFG this game will ROCK and steal my precious nights once again.

jfrdricks63
jfrdricks63

Lets just hope the new version contains the same high quality music tracks that the original puzzle quest did.

dwgehring
dwgehring

Puzzle Quest was great on PC, but migraine inducing on the Wii. I hope they allocate the proper resources to bring a quality product to the Wii this time.

drummer131
drummer131

I never played the first Puzzle Quest. It just looked dated and dull to me. But this.....this just looks awesome. Maybe I'm more of a sci-fi geek than a fantasy nerd, haha. :)

n_igma_nsider
n_igma_nsider

Sounds great. Looks like D3's formula to success is: Puzzle Quest: Galactrix = [(Bejeweled's concept + Hexic² layout) + Geometry Wars' Galaxies * Meteos Gravity] / sci-fi plot

nick_spot
nick_spot

can't stand these types of games. couldn't care less about this one.

michelle_moraes
michelle_moraes

Puzzle Quest was an amazing game, and I played it a lot!! I can't wait for this new game, it looks great!

sonofabear17
sonofabear17

Ive only played the demo on XBLA but its still cosumed about 5 or 6 hours :lol: the games addicting I need some MS points so I can get the full game

OmegaOrtega
OmegaOrtega

PQ. Best $14.99 I've ever spent on a new game.

StillWingless
StillWingless

This game was surprisingly good, and I was glad to see it steadily sell at my store. I'm freaking PUMPED about the sequel, since the first one has eaten so much of my life.

bruno_fmenedes
bruno_fmenedes

The new ideas have the potential to make the game even better than the first Puzzle quest. Looking forward to it. I added the PC version to my tracked games. I'm now playing the Challenge of the Warlords on the PC and I enjoy it very much.

oblivz
oblivz

great news i only hope the battle isnt the exact same as in cotw

FLEEBS
FLEEBS

Puzzle Quest is awesome and this game looks to continue the same awesomeness. I will certainly be purchasing this one for XBLA.

vass86
vass86

i'll probably get this on live arcade. i liked the first and the new sci-fi setting is a good idea

jakob_187
jakob_187

@Smoolander: Um, the name is being slapped on inferior sequels? Given that it's a PUZZLE game like BEJEWELED first and foremost...the idea that they are taking THIS LONG to make the game alone should tell you they aren't trying to rush things along. Moreover, they are working on IMPROVING the gameplay, so how are they slapping a name on an inferior sequel when they are trying to extend the gameplay and offer a bit more of a challenge? Totally looking forward to this game. I'm just hoping that a Wii version is coming...or maybe even a Wii original PQ title that takes full advantage of the motion controls in the puzzles.

Pulfasonic
Pulfasonic

I guess this means there will never be a PSN version of the original game.

diablobasher
diablobasher

PsP/DS/Pc/360 whatever, doesnt matter. I personally would have probably bought the PSP version for the widescreen and bigger screen as the game has a lot of text. But portability means nothing in my area as im liable to be mugged sooner than i can turn the thing on. So i got it on 360 and enjoyed it immensely. Looking forward to this one too.

azurik15
azurik15

Great! i'll wait for PC!!

Smoolander
Smoolander

Love Puzzle Quest, but I'm worried that the PQ name will be slapped on a whole heap of inferior sequels. Here's hoping they do the original game justice. Puzzle Quest crossed with Mass Effect maybe!