The biggest complaint about the puzzle-RPG hybrid game Puzzle Quest was that all the enemies seemed to be cheating, making moves that triggered gem chains that weren’t even on the board. So when Square Enix and PopCap teamed up to produce a new Bejeweled-based RPG, they made opponents passive combatants. If you lose a fight in Gyromancer, it’s because of your own negligence rather than any AI strategy.
Gyromancer follows the immortal mage Rivel, who summons Pokémon-style monsters to fight on his behalf. Each monster has a set of special abilities activated by playing Bejeweled Twist, where players must make lines of three or more gems of the same color by rotating a set of four gems clockwise. The catch is that making matches also fills up your enemies’ action bars. Filling a bar produces special gems that you must clear from the board to trigger. Your opponent’s spells transform gems into time bombs, which you must clear before they go off and unleash their effects.
Most monsters follow the same basic format of producing gems that do tons of damage. But a few break from the mold, such as a plant creature that primarily wins fights by healing itself and putting nasty damage-over-time effects on enemies. When slow and steady is the only way to win the race, players have to learn how to fight defensively. A level cap on each monster prevents too much power-leveling, and ensures that players try different types of combatants.
The plot, which involves Rivel chasing murderous knights through a mystical forest, is poorly developed, only told through brief pre-boss fight conversations at the end of each level. It’s also disappointing that upgraded versions of beasts use the same art as their weaker brethren, and that in-game currency can’t be used to buy items, because Square is selling them as downloads, for real money.
But the game does have a surprising amount of content for its price tag. Beating the boss is only the beginning of each level, as the fights unlock additional parts of the map, complete with mini-bosses, unique puzzles, and new beasts to collect. While there are a few too many random enemies chasing your character around each level, excellent music and the addictive nature of the game keep things from getting tedious, and make Gyromancer a solid value for puzzle addicts.