May 31, 2013
“And lo, the hero’s adventure did come to an end because he couldn’t unlock the chest in time.”
This is something that does happen in 10000000, the indie match-3 RPG from EightyEight Games (aka Luca Redwood) that has been brought to Android. Sometimes it’s not the enemies that fell the player, it’s the inability to get the keys to unlock doors and chests, leading to one’s doom. Wait, why?
Well, in the world of 10000000, players exist on a horizontal scale where they need to keep moving, and anything that slows them down or keeps them from advancing it a threat. Sure, the enemies are greater threats because they’ll actually knock the player back, stopping them on their quest to get ten million points and free the protagonist from his mysterious imprisonment.
The game is a match-3 puzzler at its core, but it uses a slightly different mechanic where players slide around entire rows and columns in order to make matches. Now, each match has a certain effect, whether it be to deliver attacks on enemies, unlock chests, or add items to the inventory.
Where the challenge starts to come in is that players need to make specific matches at specific times in order to do what they need to. Thus, the context of battles changes the complexion of the board. What at one second is a favorable layout suddenly becomes a nightmare. It really brings a layer of depth to the matching that similar puzzle-RPGs don’t have, because each match has a particular response, and sometimes those responses aren’t adequate for the situation at hand. It’s ingenious.
The upgrade system where players get stronger by spending gold and resources not only adds a layer of customization, it also adds a tantalizing layer to the matching game: is it worth collecting resources with this available match, or to make this combat match? Yes, I’m in a fight with an enemy, but these resources could mean the difference between an upgrade for the next game and not. Since the goal is not to get high scores, but to get the high score of ten million points, maybe that’s the better play. This game is far more layered than a match-3 deserves to be.
There are a few drawbacks to the overall experience. Visually, the game is a wee bit ugly, and that icon is almost endearing at this point. The controls on a 7″ screen are fine, but it does require using the index finger as a pointer. I kinda like this better on a phone. The sliding rows and columns makes finding that next match often a bit more difficult than it needs to be.
10000000 isn’t perfect, but as a match-3 game that truly integrates its match-3 gameplay into its experience, versus using it just as one way to skin a cat like with Puzzle Quest (not that it’s a bad thing), it’s brilliant and can be quite the addictive little game.