This fun and engaging sequel will probably entertain you for dozens of hours, but it achieves that by presenting a way too familiar gameplay.
Just like Tetris, Bejeweled is one of the most popular puzzle games ever created as the original was released for several consoles, smartphones and even the world’s most popular social network. One of the main reasons for its increasing popularity is that not only can the game be extremely addictive and compelling to play, but it’s also really easy to pick up. Fortunately, this iteration adds some components, like new modes, gems and badges giving you enough reasons to play it for more than just a few times. But will these shallow additions be enough to keep the gameplay fresh even after a decade of releasing the first Bejeweled? Let’s find out
The main formula is pretty simple, it’s based on swapping one gem with an adjacent one to make it match with at least two others of the same color. This causes the matched precious stones to disappear, randomly generating new gems that drop on the empty space. To add even more variety to the game new gems can be created. When more than three gems are aligned, a special precious stone appears destroying all the surrounding ones. By forming an L or a T shape you create a star gem that removes all the other stones of a particular color. Four main modes are available right off the bat, Classic, Zen, Lightning and Quest modes. The Classic mode is the most traditional way to play the game, which lets you play the game until you run out of possible matches. To do this, you have to plan every move instead of matching gems recklessly and this adds more strategy to it.
The Zen mode is also called endless mode, and as the name states it lets you play the game endlessly. But besides that, this mode has soothing music and sounds that encourage relaxation and it also features a breath modulation mode that allows you to synchronize your breathing patterns with lines on the screen. The developers claim to have worked with scientists of the field of biofeedback to create the mode, but after trying it for a long while I would be lying if I said that I felt more relaxed or calmed. Then, the Lightning mode adds a clock to the formula, before it runs to zero you have to match special gems to add more seconds to it. Finally, the last regular mode is called Quest, in it you have more than 40 puzzles to solve and some minigames that mix some of the rules of the different featured modes.
Furthermore, some secrets modes were included, the Butterfly, Diamond Mine, Ice Storm and Poker. The Butterfly mode features butterflies of different colors and a spider. Here you’ll have to free the butterflies by matching them with gems of the respective colors before they reach the top and are caught by the spider. The Diamond Mine mode consists of finding different treasures that have been previously hidden on the sand. To do so, you’ll have to explode gems allowing you to dig into the ground where there are various artifacts. In Ice Storm, ice columns continually raise and the only way to stop them is by making matches, the trick here is that making vertical or horizontal matches have different effects on the ice. The last mode included is Poker, in it there is a hand of cards and every time you make a match a card is turned with a gem on it. The objective is to acquire the best hand possible by making matches.
Fortunately, there are some elements that add a sense of progression to the game. All the secrets modes have to be unlocked by acquiring certain number of points or beating other mode and the inclusion of an incredible number of badges is great news for completionists. It’s good to know that even when so many elements have been added the basic gameplay is still intact, but this can be a disadvantage in itself as there’s nothing innovative about this sequel. That doesn’t mean that the game is uninspired or anything, but Bejeweled 3 has definitely a sense of Déjà vu to it. Steam achievements and some sort of leader boards are inexistent and are somehow expected, especially considering nowadays every game has them.
This puzzle game isn’t disappointing, but it is impossible to understand some of its omissions. What’s nice about Bejeweled is that is appealing to almost everybody, even for people who don’t usually play games. Its addictive nature and variety of modes allow you to keep playing for more than a few weeks. There’s something interesting about this game that keeps you hooked and interested for hours, and not every game can say the same.