If there’s a shiny facet to be wrung out of this yr’s Thanksgiving vacation weekend, it’s that 4 days of enforced solitude have by no means met a greater companion than two brand-new online game consoles. On the PlayStation 5, I continued my exploits as Miles Morales, and my spouse and I acquired some co-op time with Sackboy, the latest title within the Little Big Planet franchise; on the Xbox Series X, I dove into Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War’s marketing campaign. It was an limitless sensory buffet of ray-tracing, 4K high quality, new controller odor, and minimal load occasions—with no traces, no distractions, and no sneeze guard needed.
Yet, even with this huge digital cornucopia at my fingertips, why did I nonetheless spend a lot goddamn time enjoying a free match-Three recreation on my cellphone?
Here’s the reality of it: Since first downloading it 466 days in the past, there’s nothing I’ve performed extra, or loved extra, than Marvel Puzzle Quest. (I’d share the Screen Time knowledge, however frankly, I don’t actually must be confronted with that.) Not solely am I not alone on this, however I’m a relative rookie. Hundreds, if not hundreds, of individuals have been enjoying every day because the title first launched in 2013. On the sport’s official boards, on its unofficial subreddit, and in Line chat rooms the place teams of gamers microstrategize in-game occasions, MPQ isn’t only a free-to-play cell recreation—it’s lots of people’s “forever game,” the one which stays a relentless of their lives at the same time as different titles come and go.
You’ve acquired questions. Of course you’ve acquired questions. And the primary one might be “Wait, a match-3 puzzler? Like Candy Crush?” Yes, precisely. The recreation’s core mechanic is completely the identical: You’ve acquired a board crammed with tiles of assorted colours and shapes, any of which will be slid to swap locations with any tile above, under, or subsequent to it; for those who make a line of three like tiles, they disappear, and the tiles above drop in to fill the void. If you match 4 or 5 tiles contiguously, you do extra harm and might destroy a row and even get an additional flip.
Those similarities are precisely why my spouse loves calling it Candy Crush Avengers. But they’re additionally the one similarities, as a result of the enjoyment and magic of MPQ is the role-playing recreation that’s constructed on high of the match-Three mechanic. For every spherical, you set collectively a crew of three Marvel Comics characters chosen out of your roster. Each character has a set of three powers peculiar to them: Some are passive, laying out particular tiles that may compound harm or protect a personality from enemy harm; others can shift tiles round, destroy teams of tiles, or ship characters airborne to flee harm.
The trick to assembling a crew, then, is to seek out three characters with hidden synergies. (One that’s standard proper now makes use of Polaris, aka Magneto’s daughter; Guardians of the Galaxy’s Rocket and Groot; and Kitty Pryde. All three have passive powers that mix to create an inescapable deluge of damage-inflicting tiles that may overwhelm even highly effective groups inside a handful of turns.) It all feels like lots. It’s actually not. When you first begin out within the recreation, you might have a single “one-star” character with restricted hit factors and harm capabilities—the one-star model of Spider-Man is taken into account one of the best of the bunch—however as you add roster slots and stage up, you amass extra highly effective characters from extra highly effective tiers.