Review: Jewel Quest

At a Glance

ESRB Rating: E - Everyone
My Rating: Ages 6 and up
Genre: Match 3
License: Commercial
Release Year: 2009
Review Published On: August 27th, 2016
Played on: Martha

Available from:

Steam

Save System:

At the start of each level, your progress is automatically saved in your own profile. There is no way to save during a level, but you do have the option to pause the game by pressing the MENU button in the lower right.

Summary of
Major Issues:

In order to find the Jewel Board, you'll need to restore a number of statues that represent various Mayan gods. In the story, the protagonist talks about them as if they were real people who are not among us anymore.

Screenshots

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Later levels turn the board to silver before it becomes golden

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The Cursed Mask makes things trickier

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Skulls adorn the last area of the story



Game Overview

Unlike games like Bejeweled, the Jewel Quest series uses its Match 3 gameplay to tell an in-depth story about a professor named Rupert, his hired man Hanni, his love interest Emma, and a ruthless treasure hunter named Sebastion. This first game is almost entirely focused around Rupert, as it tells the story of how he originally discovered the magical Jewel Board.

Gameplay-wise, this is a fairly standard Match 3, though the goal isn't about reaching a high score or clearing a given number of a type of jewel. Instead, when you line up three jewels of the same type, they disappear and turn the spaces below them into gold. Your task then, is to turn the entire board into gold by matching jewels.

Later on, the rules change slightly to keep the game challenging. This begins with matches turning spaces into silver, requiring you to match two groups of jewels over a space to turn it gold. Eventually, the Cursed Mask makes an appearance. This is one jewel you don't want to match, as groups of Cursed Masks turn the spaces under them back into parchment! There is another way to deal with these pests, so some planning ahead can go a long way.

Ultimately, this entry was a bit on the shaky side, though that's pretty much something to be expected. In most cases, developers produce better quality games as they continue a series, and Jewel Quest wasn't an exception. Still, it's worth playing through the game at least once to learn about the Jewel Board's origins and catch up on the story the rest of the series is built on.

Points of Interest

Matching for a story
In each part of the game, you'll be repairing statues of Mayan deities. Each board you clear restores a little more of the current statue, and the journey to find the fabled Jeweled Board continues. This is a good and simple way to provide motivation for playing further, and it works fairly well -- or at least it does until you're tasked with doing everything over again.
Unexpected voice acting
The last deity actually has spoken lines when you clear his final board. None of the other levels features this, so it's a bit jarring if you're not expecting it.
First game blues
It's fairly typical that the first game in a series isn't as smooth or as high quality as what came after it, and that's definitely the case here. The big quality difference between this game and the others is found with the smoothness of the gameplay. Here you might end up waiting for things to finish clearing before you can take your next turn, while later games drop the jewels quicker and feel more fluid overall. Another example is that this game won't let you move jewels into empty spots, which would be a useful tactic in many of the levels.
Repetitive levels
After you clear all of the levels for the first time, the story is effectively over. However, you'll now be tasked with clearing them all again with an extra obstacle (such as the Cursed Mask or having to turn the board to silver before it can become golden). This basically means you'll need to play each level several times before the game is "beaten", and it's just not worth the effort.

Concerns and Issues

Mayan gods lead the way
To find the legendary Jeweled Board, you must first restore the idols of various Mayan gods by clearing other jeweled boards. While it helps the protagonist move towards their goal, it's also a little unsettling that you need to deal with spirits to do it.
Skulls line the last area
While most of the regions you'll visit are places like a study or a mysterious cave, the last area is bordered by a pool of lava and decorated with impaled human skulls. This area's statue is also holding up his hands as if to warn you away.
Motivation decay
Originally the protagonist's motivation for finding the Jeweled Board was scholarly acclaim and the archaeological value of the treasure. However, after finding it, the story changes to superstitious and greedy ramblings, as if the wealth provided by the boards drove the protagonist mad somehow.

Some of these ramblings are even borderline psychotic. For example, at one point Rupert states that there is a legend that if you use water to wash a Sapphire, the water would be able to cure the poison from a scorpion, and that he should test this out on some of his grad students.