Pet Rescue Saga is the latest entry in King.com’s popular “Saga” puzzle game series on Facebook, which so far consists of Hoop de Loop Saga, Bubble Witch Saga, Candy Crush Saga, Pyramid Solitaire Saga and now this. Like its predecessors, Pet Rescue Saga uses familiar, tried and tested game mechanics and then layers a few additional gameplay twists and a significant degree of audio-visual polish atop the base formula.
With Pet Rescue Saga, it is Diamond Dash-style gem-matching gameplay that comes to the fore. On each level, players are presented with a grid of colored gems and must clear as many as possible by clicking on groups of two or more like-colored stones that are touching. This is a slight change on the usual formula for this type of game — three is usually the minimum number of gems in a group. Another twist is that the player builds up a charge on a “rocket” at the side of the screen as they match larger groups of gems, and when fully charged this may be used to immediately clear an on-screen column.
As with most of King.com’s other titles, there are several slight variations on this basic formula rather than it remaining exactly the same all the way through. On some levels, players will simply be required to clear a certain proportion of the level, represented by a meter at the side of the screen; on others, they may be asked to rescue the titular pets by dropping them to the base of the screen by removing all gems underneath them. Some levels are also taller than the screen, which is a mechanic not normally seen in this type of game.
Once a level’s objective is completed, the player is awarded a bonus according to how much of the level they were able to clear — with a significantly larger bonus if this figure is 100% — and then awarded between one and three stars according to their performance. Players are also able to see how they stack up against their friends on a leaderboard for each level, and brag about their score if they beat someone.
As the game progresses, it unlocks the ability to purchase various “boost” items which can help make the player’s life easier. These are introduced one at a time, usually with a single “free trial” object to demonstrate how it works, and are then purchased using in-game currency, which is either earned during play or acquired through a real money transaction. This forms one part of the game’s monetization strategy, the other being its “lives” system, whereby a life is expended if the player is unable to meet the level’s objective. These gradually restore over time or may be immediately topped up by paying, though it appears that it’s not possible to “stock up” — the amount the player may have on hand at any one time is just five.
Pet Rescue Saga may have a completely unoriginal game mechanic at its core, but like most of King.com’s previous games, it is immaculately presented, highly playable and feels very player-friendly. The option to pay money for a better experience is there, but at no point will the player feel forced to do so — at least, not until they come across a particularly difficult level and run out of lives! The social features are well-integrated, too — leaderboards are always good for friendly competition — though it is a little pushy about sharing brag posts with friends when beating their score or passing them on the game’s world map. Those who are playing “solo,” however, will not run into this issue, as the game certainly does not repeatedly encourage them to invite friends or spam their Timeline with promotional posts.
All in all, then, Pet Rescue Saga is an excellent addition to King.com’s lineup. Its tried-and-tested gameplay mechanics mean that it will likely prove popular with fans of other Facebook puzzle games, and King.com’s skill at user acquisition and monetization will doubtless ensure that it is a big success in the long term.
Pet Rescue Saga currently has 20,000 MAU, 10,000 WAU and 4,000 DAU. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for social games and developers.
Like most of King.com’s games, Pet Rescue Saga is completely unoriginal at its core, but is highly playable and extremely well-presented.