Review: The Treasures of Montezuma 4

At a Glance

ESRB Rating: NR - Not Rated
My Rating: Everyone
Genre: Match 3
License: Commercial
Release Year: 2013
Review Published On: August 12, 2020
Played on: Thaddeus

Available from:

Gamer's Gate, Steam

Save System:

Your progress is automatically saved in your own profile whenever you finish a level or buy anything from the game's store. You can't save in the middle of a level, but you can pause the game by pressing ESC.

Summary of
Major Issues:

Perhaps the gravest concern about this game is that it's built on the concept of ancient magic and the ability of souls to be reborn after death.

Beyond that, this is a pretty standard puzzle game with no real issues.


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Trying to uncover the background

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Reassembling an artifact by dropping the pieces off the playfield

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Selecting a level in Story mode

Game Overview

One of the biggest difficulties with making a good Match 3 game lies in finding a way to make it unique. Today, the basic formula is generally left to minigames, and that means developers need to find a creative hook to get people interested in playing one long term. In the case of the Treasures of Montezuma 4, this meant weaving a story around the game's mechanics and building the theme from there.

The story mode is the main focus of the game, but to be honest, the story itself is little more than a framework that provides the player with a setting and reason to continue. As the opening cutscene explains, the Emperor Montezuma had fallen in love with a woman named Anakaona, and they vowed to be together forever. However, the arrival of Cortez and his armies spelled the end of the Aztec Empire. The gods created a portal to allow the lovers to escape, but while Montezuma made it to safety, Anakaona did not.

However, this was not the end of their love. The Aztecs believed that when someone dies, they would be reborn sometime later as a new person. Thus, many generations later, a young archaeologist found herself inexplicitly drawn to the hidden ziggurat filled with artifacts and statues. Much to her surprise, one of the statues came to life, and explained the situation to her. In order to reunite the lovers across time, you'll need to reopen the magic portal, and that's where the gameplay comes in.

There are seven magical totems nearby, and you'll need their help to open the portal. Each totem holds a ring possessing a set of fourteen challenges. By completing these challenges, you'll earn the magical crystal guarded by that totem. Once all of the crystals have been set in place, the portal will open, and Montezuma and Anakaona can be together again.

Now, I've yet to play any of the other games in the Treasures of Montezuma series, so I can't compare this game to the rest of its franchise. However, I can say that even though a lot of the content is locked away behind in-story milestones, the Treasures of Montezuma 4 ticks all the right boxes for an excellent Match 3 game, and I'd highly recommend this one to anyone who loves Match 3 games and has a lot of time to kill.

Points of Interest

Incremental powerup system
In many Match 3 games, you create powerups by making matches with more than three tiles of the same color. This formula appears here too, but there's another way of getting some help. You can unlock seven different totems by purchasing them in the store. Once unlocked, they can be summoned during a game by matching some tokens of their respective color, and you can use them by immediately matching another set of that color. Each totem has a unique effect, and as you upgrade them, they'll become more effective. You'll eventually be able to use them multiple times in a row, too!
Very forgiving
Interestingly enough, you don't need to earn bronze, silver, or gold rank on a level to continue on in your adventure. These "elite" ranks are treated as little more than a prize you can earn. You also have the option to replay any story level whenever you want, and I'd suggest doing this as it's a great way to earn the money and experience you'll need to unlock the game's other features.
Three game modes
There are three way to play this game: the Story mode, Puzzle mode, and a Quest mode. The story mode has you progress from level to level, eventually opening that pesky magical portal. This is the main way to play the game; the other modes are locked away until you've reached key milestones in the story mode.

The Puzzle mode allows you to challenge yourself to a eight different Match 3 variations, most of which you'll initially encounter during the story. This time around, when you've completed enough games of a specific type, you'll be rewarded with a random treasure. Each game type has three possible treasures, so finding all twenty four of them will take some effort, and you'll earn a nifty achievement to let everyone know you've accomplished this feat.

Lastly, the Quest mode has you work your way across a map with the goal of locating two halves of a relic. Each space on the map has several challenges, or "quests", for you to complete before you can continue on that path. This mode actually struck me as a bit lackluster; the payoff for finding both parts of the relic is little more than a screen that says "congratulations", after which the quest mode resets.
Multiple game types
Just about everyone who's ever played a Match 3 game is familiar with the basic formula of switching two tiles at a time in hopes of making three or more tiles line up. This game spices things up by providing many different ways to play with this basic mechanic. Some levels have you try to earn a given number of points before time runs out, but there's plenty of other options. You might be trying to catch frogs, drop gold off the bottom of the playfield, connect a well to an oasis, or keep a sacred fire alive.

The Puzzle mode allows you to play an endless number of these alternative games on demand, though the sacred fire game type isn't listed as an option outside of the story mode. I have a suspicion about the reason behind that, but let's leave the spoilers for later.
Steam community features
If you're the sort of person who enjoys collecting them, there's a set of Steam trading cards available for this game. More importantly, there are thirty two achievements to earn. Although most of these can be earned by just playing the game a lot, some require you to do some silly things or spend a large amount of gold on stuff.

Concerns and Issues

Aztec mystical world system
Both the plot and setting of this game revolve around a pseudo-Aztec universe where magic is real and people are reborn into a new generation when they die. This obviously clashes with the Christian ideas regard the afterlife and magic, though ultimately it's little more than window dressing. The magic and totems seen in this game wouldn't look out of place on a children's storytime puppet show.

Cortez on the other hand, is another story altogether, though that's spoiler territory.
Mild violence
Cortez threatens people at different points in the game, and you'll see one of his men shoot Anakaona during the opening cutscene. You don't see the wound or any blood, but you do clearly witness her murder. The rest of the game is free of any violence, as it's all a bunch of puzzles.
Isses with Cortez
When you finally open the magical portal, you'll discover that Cortez has somehow hijacked it and is trying to break through to attack you. He's also somehow been transformed into a snarling werewolf. Unlike anything else in the game, he's decidedly unfriendly, introducing himself by screaming about how the "damn pagans" won't escape his wrath.

On a side note, this is also where the sacred fire mode becomes vitally important. Cortez is using "the power of cold" to cause destruction, so you must counter it with the "the power of fire". This is probably why you don't see the sacred fire mode outside of the story -- it's the game's equivalent of a "battle" scene.