Puzzle Quest: Galactrix Updated Hands-On

We check out the latest build of Infinite Interactive's sci-fi spin on the Puzzle Quest universe.

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While the developers behind the upcoming Puzzle Quest: Galactrix are quick to tell you that the new PQ game is a brand-new experience, there are a few things, we're delighted to report, that have barely changed at all. Like its predecessor, Challenge of the Warlords, Galactrix will have a sprawling story taking place across a huge universe, an in-depth RPG plot, and loads of depth. Best of all, the gem-busting puzzle game that is at the heart of Galactrix is just as monumentally addictive as it is in the original.

The hexagonal puzzle space will add a new challenge to the already addictive PQ gameplay.

All of that said, Galactrix is still very much its own take on the PQ formula, and it has enough tweaks from Warlords to feel fresh. Of primary note is the sci-fi setting. While Challenge of the Warlords took place in a high-fantasy setting, this time around you'll be zipping around in spaceships in a galactic setting full of adventure and intrigue. It's that puzzle space that is perhaps the most important change in Galactrix; while the original game featured a rectangular puzzle space, the new game will feature a hexagonal space that looks to considerably change gameplay and strategy. Perhaps the most important aspect of the new puzzle space shape? The fact that new pieces will come in from all sides of the puzzle space, a considerable change from the top-down approach in Challenge of the Warlords.

Here's how it works: While the goal is still to match up like-colored gems, the direction in which you move a puzzle piece will determine the direction from which new gems appear. For instance, move a piece left and downward and new gems will appear from upper right-hand corner. This is true for most of the "open space" battles in the game; should you play a battle in orbit, however, the planet's gravitational field will cause the pieces to fall in the more traditional top-to-bottom manner.

In the original game, you controlled a character whose abilities you customized as you leveled him or her up. This time around, your character has been replaced by a spaceship (you can own up to three ships, in fact), complete with a full crew and ship upgrades that look to replace the spells and abilities you used in the previous game. Colored gems are tied to the various aspects of your ship--red are used for weapons upgrades, green will give you various buffs, yellow gems will affect the board itself, and blue will upgrade your ship's shield. If you want to sink all your available upgrade points into shields, playing the game turtle-style and looking to do all your damage on the puzzle board (and not with ship abilities), that will be a perfectly valid, if seemingly time-consuming, strategy. With three slots for ships in your inventory, you'll be able to customize your trio of ships (from a total of 30 available in the game) with specific build-outs that can be used in certain situations.

The space-faring plot in Galactrix looks to be just as involved as the previous game in the series; in our time with the game, we were searching a specific star system investigating an abandoned ship. As we played through the scenario, we met with various NPCs, including crew members who offered advice on our next course of action. Galactrix is a big game--there are dozens of systems to explore--and, while exploration is encouraged, you won't have to necessarily explore the farthest reaches of the galaxy in order to get from the beginning of the story to its end. That said, while the game does feel a bit more open-ended in terms of exploration this time around, some linearity is still imposed on the player in the form of jumpgates. These special portals are essentially your gateway to other parts of the Galactrix universe, and in order to access them, you'll need to solve a puzzle board challenge.

These minigames are nothing new for Puzzle Quest fans and they'll pop up in a number of situations in Galactrix. In addition to "hacking the jumpgate" (as it's known), you'll be playing minigames for things like crafting new items for your ship, collecting plans for such items, and mining asteroids for the raw materials needed to fashion new equipment. All of these are subtle variations on the standard combat puzzle system with varying levels of difficulty--in the mining minigame, for example, you simply have to line up ore gems in order to collect them for your ship. You can't fail here, but the timed mission gives you time to collect only so much ore, after which you have to move on to your next activity.

The Galactrix universe is a big place, so prepare to get your explore on.

In the relatively wide-open universe of Galactrix, those activities run the gamut; moving from one plot point to the next, exploring the galaxy, or simply attacking random ships in whatever system you happen to be currently rolling through. Add to the mix a faction system that will let you earn (or lose) reputation among the various players in the Galactrix universe and you've got a game that is as deep as the PQ hardcore seem to be clamoring for. While attacking ships of a certain faction will be a surefire way of earning its enmity, you can always regain your standing--and earn some extra cash--by collecting and selling rare items in that system.

The numbers don't lie: With 130 items to collect or build, approximately 80 systems to travel between, and around 30 ships to choose from, Puzzle Quest: Galactrix is a big, ambitious take on the PQ formula. Best of all, the changes to the puzzle gameplay at the heart of the game seem like a logical extension of the diabolically addictive original. We can't wait to sink a good chunk of our free time into the game once it's released, and we'll be keeping you informed of its progress until then.

Discussion

41 comments
teb60
teb60

What in the world is happening here; this game debut was on the PSP, and now the PSP, PS2, and PS3 are not getting it's new version.... thanx a lot D3 for nothing.

BrayneDrayne
BrayneDrayne

Please please please do a PSP release! Warlords was so good on that, even with the bugs (No companions?!? Grrr...)

dskingston
dskingston

I was alwyay put off by the name "Puzzle Quest" but it is a fun game once I got around to trying it. This one looks promising.

wukepingu
wukepingu

I had to beat PQ 1 before I could put it down. Can't wait *gets siezure from excitement*

kodai
kodai

I've been waiting all year for this baby. The first PQ is a regualr fall back on my DS and fun work time waster on my PC. Infinite Interactive has won me over with PQ and their take on the old Warlords series. Of all the PC and console games I'm looking forward too this holiday season, this is among the top. Go II!

PAJ89
PAJ89

That second screenshot reminds me a bit of the Mass Effect planet map. Anyway, this is looking like a good continuation for the PQ series.

ponzie
ponzie

Looks awesome! Really want this to come out on PSP! C'mon D3...help a brother out!

wizall
wizall

PQ has been the game I turn to when nothing else seems interesting (that's after an already thorough play-through). What the hell am I supposed to do when I have two options? What a spectacular dilemma.

lozvil
lozvil

can't wait for this to come out!

blackleather223
blackleather223

I have been at the first one for months now and am at the last level finaly. Can't wait until this comes out. I'll get this one as well.

CodingGenius
CodingGenius moderator

If it's anything like the first one, it'll be amazing!

chibi-acer
chibi-acer

I don't need to read a preview to know I'm going to be addicted to this game. I just want to see an official release date!

coulman
coulman

I agree with ChargEd. I was absolutely hooked on the first one. I may have to quit my job when I get this. :)

ChargEd
ChargEd

Seriously, I'm looking forward to this more than many AAA+ titles. The first one was just so addictive. :D

dragonvizard
dragonvizard

Awesome. The first one was such a good game. Looking forward to this one.

Foggel
Foggel

If it comes to the DS, it's a must buy for me, and once again I will realize that "oh hey, I'm calling in sick in an hour.."

dzimm
dzimm

I hope they port this to the DS.

IMDLEGEND
IMDLEGEND

I'm still addicted to the first one on PSP, but I'll get this one eventually too.

Dualmask
Dualmask

No mention of other system versions, but if the original is any indication, it'll be on every console imaginable before long. I personally want it for PSP or PSN, but I'll settle for the DS version if I have to. Either way, I'm eager to see what this new PQ game is like first-hand.

sbaltys
sbaltys

This game should be free for all the people who waisted 800 points on Plague Lord.

ToddHagen
ToddHagen

Loved the first one, and the expansion was good (albeit short). Truly a blast to play, so I have high expectations of the new game. By the sound of it, it won't disappoint!

FLEEBS
FLEEBS

I am really looking forward to this game. I loved Puzzle Quest, which is the most unlikely awesome game one might ever play.

sSubZerOo
sSubZerOo

Hopefully they fix the bugs that were in the first one.. For the PSP as the warrior, he was so overpowered.. SO overpowered in fact I CRASHED the game if the game went my way.

tomjacobs
tomjacobs

I wonder if I played the same Puzzle Quest as the preview writer: "Like its predecessor, Challenge of the Warlords, Galactrix will have a sprawling story taking place across a huge universe, an in-depth RPG plot, and loads of depth." - sprawling story : mmm ok I guess - huge universe: if you consider an overhead map, (which you can slightly pan up and to the left, and on which you play the entire game, revisiting the same places all the time) to be a huge universe, then yes - in-depth RPG plot: I'd describe it as clichéd, shallow, childish and silly (albeit funny at times) - loads of depth: well there is character customization through the spells and items you equip, and a couple of quests involve a choice to be made. But that's about it. I agree that the puzzle gameplay itself is very addictive and fun, but let's not give the game credit for things that simply aren't there.

Bgrngod
Bgrngod

I hope that they fixed the stupid AI from the last game. It was pretty stupid that the computer controlled opponent could kill you in one turn...and did it quite frequently. It made the best move EVERY single time. The game got easier as it went on.. how stupid is that?

fynne
fynne

I loved the first game and this one sounds even more addictive. I REALLLLLLY hope that it's coming out on the PSP.

Sagacious_Tien
Sagacious_Tien

Sounds like they are their own harshest critics. Thegame sounds great. This preview however is pretty poorly written and edited.

raahsnavj
raahsnavj

I played the demo of the first. The dialog and such reminded me too much of Fire Emblem... but it was still entertaining. I have been putting off buying it and then I heard of this. It fits my tastes (I like sci-fi more than fantasy) so I'm looking forward to it...

Adam_the_Nerd
Adam_the_Nerd

I loved the first game. I can't wait to play this (I don't realy care that it's more of the same)

robbiesaurus
robbiesaurus

this is retarded, lets make a game k, instead of a kingdom you have a galaxy, and instead of a square you have a hexagon man, this is going to be awesome :S

RandyAU93
RandyAU93

The first Puzzle Quest came out of nowhere, taking the match-3 gameplay that was rapidly becoming overused and making it fresh again. I look forward to this new release and a whole new adventure, too.

hawaiiinsomniac
hawaiiinsomniac

This looks awesome, I spent countless hours on the first PQ game... Looks like this one will too!