Platforms: Win, Mac, Linux
Although I enjoy all manner of match-3 games, I really like games that combine match-3 play with dungeon crawling or other combat mechanics. BloodGate is a feature-complete Early Access RPG featuring match-3 game play.
You start off with a single character, which you create from one of three classes (warrior, warlock, and stalker). Each class has access to different gear and different abilities, as well as having different elemental affinities. Elemental affinities determine which type of attacks you’re susceptible to. Everything you fight will also have an elemental affinity. As you progress through the levels, you will pick up additional characters, and you can freely swap between them during encounters, however, only one is able to do damage at any given time.
The matching mechanic here is chain making, and the longer chain you make, the more damage you do. Long chains will also spawn special tiles. If you match three tiles in a connected triangle, you will bolster your defenses rather than doing damage. Each color tile corresponds to an element and will charge abilities of that element on the active character.
There are upwards of 100 multi-combat encounters to be completed, and all are replayable for score, money, and loot. Each encounter has a goal time, and if you want to meet that goal, you don’t have a whole lot of time to think. If you complete an encounter, even if you didn’t make the goal time, you can continue on. After each encounter, you’re given the opportunity to equip any new loot, upgrade or unlock abilities, provided you’ve earned the points to do so, and visit the shop.
Chests can be purchased with keys that drop as loot during encounters, but what you receive is completely random. There are also item packages that can be purchased with gold. Crafting also factors into the game, but needs to be unlocked by rescuing a crafting NPC.
They haven’t quite gotten the balance right just yet, but that doesn’t keep BloodGate from being a lot of fun to play. There’s plenty of content (including optional online PvP play) to justify the full asking price, but the game is currently on sale for under a dollar. For a well rounded action puzzle RPG, that’s an amazing price, seeing as these games tend to have nearly endless replay value.