Hoyle Enchanted Puzzles
Hoyle Enchanted Puzzles is a mixed take on a number of common casual gaming puzzle types such as the marble popper, match-3, mahjong, and samegame. Strung together by a wizard-filled fantasy plot, you travel throughout the Valley of Skye completing puzzles to earn Craft, Nature, and Mind experience points that open new types of challenges. It's an enticing blend of puzzle and RPG elements with more than enough variety to go around.
You play a young wizard determined to find the legendary Mistress of Skye, a long-forgotten master of magic. One evening you discover a map tucked in your spell book, almost as if your curiosity alone caused it to appear. After months of travel you finally arrive in the Valley of Skye, a lush area filled with small villages, lakes and trees. Within the valley are a number of visitable zones that contain sets of puzzles. All you have to do is click and start playing.
Within each area you'll find puzzle challenges based on nine familiar casual gaming themes. You'll toss marbles like in Zuma, go fishing like in Gold Miner, create matching sets of tiles in Samegame, and more. Games are mouse-based and broadly-themed, so some will be reflex-oriented, while others more challenge and skill focused. After completing a set of puzzles in a stage you'll earn experience points return to the main menu where you can unlock new levels or more puzzles within areas you've already visited. How you spend your points is up to you!
Analysis: Puzzle game collections can be hit or miss, but Hoyle Enchanted Puzzles scores a good hit. The nine types of games represented are familiar (and simple) enough for anyone to dive right in, and ramping up the challenge within each mini-game helps keep you motivated. The presentation wrapped around the simple game is superb, even if it's little more than typical Harry Potter-esque fantasy garb.
One downside of including a variety of puzzles is that not all gamers will enjoy each mini-game as much as the last. Some, like the fishing game, seem to drag on much longer than they should, yet you still want to finish just for the experience points. Obligation shouldn't be a part of a casual game, and Hoyle Enchanted Puzzles can unintentionally insert it at inopportune times.
A solid collection of puzzles built into a lasting and interesting new whole. What it lacks in innovation, it more than makes up for with diversity!