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This page includes some jargon that hasn't been added to the site's glossary yet. I'll be around to fix this later, but sorry for the inconvenience in the meantime.

Review: Cradle of Persia

At a Glance

ESRB Rating: E - Everyone
My Rating: Everyone
Genre: Match 3
License: Commercial
Release Year: 2007
Reviewed Version: 1.02
Review Published On: April 14th, 2021
Played on: Thaddeus

Available from:

Steam, Steam ( Cradle Bundle )

Save System:

Your progress is automatically saved when you leave a level or close the game. This includes your progress within a level, so feel free to exit the game at any time.

You also have the option to pause the game by bringing up the menu with the ESC key or the on-screen menu button.

Summary of
Major Issues:

This game depicts the Persian Empire, which means you'll be building a Mosque as well as a palace for your harem. Despite how it sounds, nothing indecent is shown or there to read about.

Screenshots

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A typical level

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Unlocking the Guards

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A thriving civilization



Game Overview

Cradle of Persia is part of the Cradle Bundle, and it's basically a retool of Cradle of Rome. They are almost exactly the same game, with the major differences being their settings and how you match tokens in the playfield.

In this game, you'll match tokens to gain resources and clear spaces with background tiles. Each type of token represents a fixed amount of gold, food, and supplies, which you'll use to expand your empire.

Unlike most Match 3 games, you don't make matches by swapping adjacent tokens. Instead, you'll draw a line connecting three or more tokens of the same type, and then the entire group will be cleared. New tokens stream in, following the path you drew, and then you continue from there. This makes things tricky, as you're in control of how the tokens shift around the playfield, and at the same time, a small change in one place can shift the entire grid.

Some levels mix things up a bit by including three or more Magic Runes. Matching these special tokens ends the level instantly, earning you a huge amount of resources as a bonus. Getting them together is sometimes harder than clearing the level normally, so use your own judgement when trying to move them around.

All in all, this game is noticeably harder than Cradle of Rome thanks to the unique matching mechanic. This also makes me a bit hesitant to recommend it, as this style of gameplay might be too different for people's tastes. Still, it's a solid game, that's geared to the casual gamers out there. The other games in the Cradle Bundle are excellent, so I guess you could call this dessert.

Points of Interest

Many buildings have special benefits
Almost every building unlocks something new. Most of the time, constructing a building changes a symbol into one that yields a larger amount of resources, but sometimes you'll unlock a new powerup instead. Many of these buildings can be improved further by completing specific tasks; right-clicking on the building will bring up a window with information on what you need to do.

Most of the improvements are characters who work at that building, so as you build the civilization, your world comes more alive.
Some of the information is wrong
Unfortunately, while the game provides clues to unlocking building upgrades, something is wrong with at least two of them. Neither the Priest nor the Bathhouse Man can be unlocked, no matter how well you play. This means there's either a bug preventing things from working or the instructions are simply wrong.

Without these upgrades being available, there's no way to really reach 100% completion in this game.

Concerns and Issues

Non-Christian setting
Understandably, having this game set in Persia means that you'll be dealing with an Islamic culture (or at least a stereotype of that culture). This is mainly window dressing, as the buildings are largely there to provide progression.

That said, you will end up building a harem. The flavor text only states that polygamy was considered acceptable in Persia, and these buildings housed a person's many wives, neatly glossing over the less family friendly connotations of such a building.

Also, should you upgrade this building, a cartoon belly dancer will appear and hang around the entrance.
References to magic
There are at least three references to magic in this game. The main one is the magic wand powerup. It's your typical stick with a star on the end, and when used, it adds wildcard tokens throughout the playfield. The other two references occur as progress indicators. As you advance in the game, you'll earn various titles. These have no impact on gameplay, but one of the latter titles is that of Magician. The final reference comes from this game being based in Arabia: at the very end of the game, Aladdin's famous lamp makes a cameo appearance and you release the genie from inside it.