December 13, 2009

Take Puzzle Quest, replace Bejeweled with Bejeweled Twist, and let Square Enix handle the story and graphics, and you have Gyromancer. You are Rivel, the titular gyromancer, and it is your job to chase Qraist (I don’t know how to pronounce it either) across the wood with your collection of Final Fantasy creatures and kill everything that moves by rotating gems clockwise – unless you happen to have a spare Magicked Mirror, then you can rotate the gems anti-clockwise once.

The obvious comparison to be made is with Puzzle Quest, and Gyromancer is different in a few key ways. First, it is based on Bejeweled Twist instead of standard Bejeweled. This is a mark against Gyromancer as Bejeweled Twist just isn’t as fun to play as the patterns don’t stick out as well. Second, you don’t really fight the enemy creatures so much as you fight the board and the concept of idle twist. In Puzzle Quest both combatants made moves, but in Gyromancer only Rivel is cool enough to rotate tiles. Enemy creatures attack when their move bars fill (it feels a lot like ATB from Final Fantasy titles, but there isn’t a penalty for carefully considering your next move), and you attack when your move bars fill. You make a move. If you made a set of three, four, or five gems, your bars fill up. If the color of the match is the same as the color of the move your move fills up a bit more. If you made a match your enemy’s bars filly up a little bit. If the color of the match is the same as the color of the move then the bas doesn’t fill up at all. If you twisted without making a match then your bars don’t fill at all while your enemy’s bars fill a lot. The system works well, but it removes you from the action more than Puzzle Quest did. Spells fire off seemingly at random, and the whole thing feels more luck-based than Puzzle Quest ever did.

Gyromancer’s campaign is split up into 12 different levels. This lends itself well to replay as each level has goals than can be met and enemies to defeat even after the boss has been defeated and the area has been technically cleared. Completing these goals is the primary way of unlocking achievements in Gyromancer as well as the best way to capture new Gyro Codes which yield you new creatures. And you’ll need new creatures. Each creature has both an affinity (color) and a level cap. Blue creatures (water) and effective against red creatures (fire), and you’ll want to trade out new creatures as you reach the level cap on your starters. You can take three with you into any level, and it pays to mix up their colors a bit so that you always have a creature that is on at least equal footing with your enemy.

Gyromancer didn’t grab me quite like Puzzle Quest did when it first released, but if you like Bejeweled Twist and always wanted to see what Square Enix could do with a PopCap game then Gyromancer is the game for you. It certainly isn’t hurting for polish, and I keep going back to it even if it isn’t the best of the genre mash-up.

Pros: No penalty for considering moves, good creature variety

Cons: Feels far-removed from combat

Plays Like: Bejeweled Twist RPG

ESRB: T for blood, mild fantasy violence 

Score: 3/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.