Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, iPad
I won’t try to claim that Dungeon Hearts is a masterpiece. What I will say is that, for a game with a three dollar price tag, there’s a lot going on here.
There is a tutorial, and I recommend it before jumping in for the first time. But what the tutorial fails to convey is the frantic pacing of the game. In the tutorial, you’re given a full screen and limitless time to do as you’re told. Not so in the actual game. It’s quite frantic, even on the lowest difficulty setting.
On the left hand side of your screen are your four heroes. On the left is your (frequently freaking ADORABLE) enemy. What you need to do is drag around those colored circles. When you have three touching, click on to turn the trio into a single colored diamond. Click the diamond to make the appropriately colored character attack. Sounds simple, right?
And on one level it is. On another, it has layers of strategy that would take an impressive actions-per-minute rate to fully make use of. Diamonds detonated in the same column or row as other diamonds will detonate. Diamonds detonated in the same column or row as circles of the same color will provide multiplier bonuses.
As you progress through the game, additional challenges are added in. Grey skull tiles will appear, and need to be destroyed by detonating a diamond on the same row or column or they will damage your hero when they hit the left side of the screen (called the fatestream). Other grey squares will appear that will have different effects on the heroes if they’re not destroyed before reaching them. Grey circles will start showing up which will give the same multiplier bonuses for the enemy that the colored one do for you. As your characters level up, you will get clickable abilities for each of them, and an energy bar to track when those skills are ready to fire. For a match-3 game, there’s a lot to keep track of.
Dungeon Hearts keeps to the theme with it’s level up mechanism. After defeating an enemy, you get a different kind of match three board, and each match you make of a particular color gives experience to that hero. However, the level-up board is pretty densely packed from the beginning, and requires a slightly different strategy since, ideally, you don’t want to let ANY star disappear off the left hand side of the board, and since you frequently have to move multiple stars in order to make a match.
This game also has a color-blind mode, which I think is fantastic for such a budget title.
I enjoy Dungeon Hearts far more than I should, seeing as I lack the dexterity and speed required to be really good at the game. I’m not sure if this game was ported for iPad or from it, but the controls feel natural on PC; I’m just too damn slow. This isn’t a game for marathon gaming sessions, but it’s fun in small doses, and I do find myself going back to it time and time again.