Puzzle Treasure, a new Facebook game developed by Play-Bit Entertainment and published by 6waves Lolapps, is a puzzler that sets itself apart from other social brainteasers with a variety of game modes, a wide range of content and head-scratching gameplay. Based loosely around the theme of an Indiana Jones-like character attempting to uncover the world’s treasures, the game tasks players with filling a hole with a series of preselected shapes in a similar manner to traditional Chinese “tangram” puzzles. Sometimes players must fill the hole completely using the pieces provided to them while at other times, “locked” pieces have already been placed in the play area, requiring careful planning to solve the puzzle.
The game offers three main play modes, but these largely affect the overall game structure rather than the basic mechanics. Adventure Quest tasks players with solving a short series of puzzles in succession in order to acquire various archaeological artefacts, Puzzle Arcade challenges players to complete one-off puzzles and Time Attack gives players a set time limit in which to solve as many puzzles as they can.
Completing a puzzle rewards players with soft currency and experience points, with more of each on offer if the player beats the puzzle in a particularly quick time or if particularly challenging puzzles were attempted. The former may be spent on unlocking new levels and visual themes for the puzzle pieces, while the latter is used purely as a means of automatically replenishing the player’s energy upon leveling up. Strangely, there’s no facility for the player to purchase soft currency using Facebook Credits, meaning if they wish to progress to the more challenging later puzzles, they will have to earn their way there through normal gameplay. The game’s primary means of monetization comes via the sales of energy packs, though there is also a “Gold” visual theme for the puzzle pieces which may only be purchased with Facebook Credits.
Gameplay is simple to understand and explained well through the very brief tutorial during the first puzzle. Controls are a simple matter of clicking and dragging pieces into the play area, then clicking on them to rotate them if necessary. If the player chooses to restart a puzzle, they are charged a small energy cost but given a hint showing where some of the pieces must be placed in exchange. Players may also make use of one free hint per day, with additional ones available if the player wishes to pay for them.
The game is primarily a solitary experience but does feature a leaderboard showing how many puzzles the player’s Facebook friends have each managed to solve, along with the total number of coins earned and the experience level they have reached. Friends are able to send energy packs to one another, and these may also be acquired through Wall posts, assisting the game’s virality. This quickly becomes necessary for dedicated players, as more difficult puzzles require larger outlays of energy in order to attempt. With a base limit of 100 points of gradually-restoring energy on offer and harder challenges costing 20-40 energy each time, play sessions seem to get shorter as the player’s confidence develops, unless they are able to recruit friends or are willing to make the outlay for additional energy. This takes a little of the satisfaction out of solving a particularly demanding puzzle, as players who feel like they are “on a roll” may suddenly find themselves short of energy — potentially good for monetization, but also potentially a rough point of conversion for some players to make.
This issue aside, Puzzle Treasure is worth checking out purely for the fact it’s not another Match 3 puzzler or bubble-popper. The game offers a generous amount of content with more available for unlock through in-game currency, and the modular nature of the game’s structure mean that it can be easily extended over time with minimal production of new assets required. A little balancing of the energy system will help make the game a more satisfying experience for free players while still allowing for monetization.
A good example of a different type of Facebook puzzle game that needs a little balancing.