Written by  :  Roedie (5253)
Written on  :  Nov 26, 2008
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars

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Summary

Initially addictive, but too repetitive to keep me interested

The Good

Jewel Quest is tile-matching game somewhat similar to Bejeweled. Swap a pair of items (called relics) on a board to make matches of 3 identical items. You can only swap relics if this swap results in a match. A match makes the group disappear and turns the tiles behind the relics to gold. Unlike Bejeweled, the goal in Jewel Quest is not to score a certain amount of points, but to turn all the tiles of the board to gold. When you've managed to do this you've completed a level.
  • The gameplay is simple and Jewel Quest is really easy to get into. Almost everybody will understand the game mechanics after a few minutes and probably spend the next hours clicking & swapping relics. Jewel Quest is the first tile-matching game of its kind I played and initially I found it really fun and addictive. The learning curve of this game is just right. On the first levels you can almost just click away mindlessly and eventually you'll turn the entire board to gold. However once the boards get odd shapes and locked relics are introduced, completing a level can take quite some planning. For instance you may need to make a series of matches in a particular order to get a certain type of relic on a specific location. If you continue to play Jewel Quest, you'll eventually come across levels with tiles that have to be turned to silver before they can be turned to gold, cursed relics that remove the golden layer on a tile if they're not matched in a combo, levels with six types of relics instead of four and shorter time limits. By then Jewel Quest has become rather difficult and even a bit frustrating.
  • Jewel Quest has an overly familiar but nice Indiana Jones-like atmosphere. There's a storyline (told via journal entries and pencil drawings) about an adventurous archaeologist who tries to uncover the secrets of a Maya-like civilization. It's not original or complex but does give the player some sense of purpose. The music and the fonts used are reminiscent of the Spielberg movies as well. I liked both the music & the sound-effects as they contribute to the adventurous atmosphere. Each of the five stages (library, jungle, mountain top, panther cave, lava cave) has its own soundtrack, but unfortunately all the five songs last only a minute so after a while you may be tempted to turn the music off despite its quality. Each stage also has its own, partly animated, background image which changes a bit with every level you complete. For instance a statue will slowly turn to gold or secret passage appears. This and the steps on the treasure map give the player a sense of progress. The rest of the graphics are neither very good nor very bad.
  • Jewel Quest is a user-friendly game. Your game is saved after every level, you have the option of skipping a level after several unsuccessful attempts (at the expense of a life) and you have an infinite number of continues. So you can always restart the level and hope for a slightly easier layout since the different types of items are randomly assigned to the available tiles and sometimes you get lucky and can make an easy match on a difficult spot. The controls are really simple. Although there's a time limit for every level they're not very strict (at least not up to the point where I stopped playing), so you don't feel rushed. However a couple of times I felt I was close to completing a level, if only I've had an extra minute...
  • Currently (November 2008) you can play the game for free when you download it from iWin's own website. Jewel Quest is also available on some other sites with casual games but they still charge you twenty dollars which is a bit weird.

The Bad

  • Jewel Quest must be one of the most repetitive games I've ever played. It has 180 levels divided over five difficulty levels. You can only start the game at the easiest (called explorer) level. You play through 36 levels divided over 5 stages. After a bunch of levels, locked relics (need to be unlocked by including them in a match) are introduced and the shapes of the boards become more complex but the things you do don't really change. You're basically solving minor variations of the same puzzle. I continued to play because I wanted to see what the next stage would look like and because of the story. However after you've completed level 36 (5.10) the dean of your university promotes you to "adventurer" and you're sent back to level 1.1 and start playing on the second difficulty level. The cursed relics are introduced at this difficulty level but otherwise there's nothing new. The boards you play on, the backgrounds, the treasure map and pencil drawings (including the dates for the journal entries) are all exactly the same. This recycling of levels & artwork is done three more times. For me this eventually took away the incentive to keep on playing. With 180 levels Jewel Quest can keep you occupied for a long time but only if you're able to stomach playing the same thing over and over again.
  • Sometimes you're working on matching up a relic that lies on a tough spot near the bottom of the board. You remove some relics and other relics are dropped in from the top of the board. Then it can happen that these new relics start a combo / chain reaction and unexpectedly take out a relic you needed for making the difficult match near the bottom, which is annoying.
  • Compared to some other games in the genre Jewel Quest's gameplay is a bit basic. The story mode is the only mode of play (you can replay levels in the replay mode but this doesn't really add anything) and there are no power-ups to spice things up. More recent entries in the genre (most notably Puzzle Quest) have a lot more to offer than this game.

The Bottom Line

Jewel Quest is a basic tile-matching game with an Indiana Jones theme. Like Steve Hall says, initially it is a fun and addictive game but that wears off quickly due to its extremely repetitive nature.