|Publisher: GameHouse Genre: Puzzle & Trivia|
|Min OS X: 10.3 Hard Disk: 37 MB|
After playing Azkend, I learned something about casual games: I donít like them. All right, bare with me, I am going somewhere with this and Iíll get to my point quickly. I am a gamer (obviously), and I love playing ďhardcoreĒ games, be it shooters or role-playing games. Now playing those games, especially story driven ones, there are great points where you stop and return later, have it be a chapter break or a moment of peace where you can rest due to the intensity of the game. Now, casual games donít really have that. Playing one, especially a good one, requires more will power to stop. So that is my point. Casual games can be the ultimate time-suck. Here is my warning to you all right now: Azkend can and will take a huge portion of your time.
The GameAzkend is kind of an odd entry in the puzzle genre. First of all, there is a clear goal for the game. Adventure mode has you journeying through mountain paths, facing new challenges leading to a clear end. Unlike other puzzle gamesí adventure mode, which isnít really anything more than harder challenges, Azkend has you on a journey, where you face harder challenges. All right, so the main difference is stronger context in this game and a clear goal. Context is nice and all, but ultimately superfluous. So how is the actual game? The answer is very entertaining.
The game eases you in simply enough with a board with various icons on it. The goal is to change the entire background of the board to blue by selecting and linking the numerous alike icons. This in turn eliminates the selected pieces, bringing new ones into play. Once complete, a talisman piece appears, and it has to be eased to the bottom of the board. Progressing through stages, new obstacles appear. Steel backgrounds come into play, meaning these have to be played twice, once to make it neutral and a second to turn blue. Others include frozen blocks and locked pieces; the latter prevents pieces from dropping past them. Handling these requires playing adjacent blocks to nullify them. This is part of what I consider an illusion of depth. I will stress that I do not consider this a bad thing at all. These obstacles have no huge effect on how to play the game, as the basic idea of linking as many objects together is all that is needed. Eventually everything will fall into place. Each stage is timed. Some can end quickly, others take some more time, but it is overall a tightly paced game.
Further giving this illusion of depth are talismans that are collected. Pieces are awarded at the end of each level, and six pieces complete a whole talisman. One can be selected at a time in between levels and offer bonuses based on chains in each level. Some are useful, such as destroying random pieces. Some could be annoying, swapping pieces around the board. Again though, these do not drastically affect the overall gameplay. Azkend is really simple, and that absolutely works for it.