is basically Puzzle & Dragons, but instead of being Pokemon mashed up with Bejeweled, it's Pokemon mashed up with Azkend (which I think improved upon the match three concept in basically every way there is) plus a thin coat of Magic: The Gathering card collecting paint.
It's still F2P with annoying timers and virtual currency you buy for real money, but it eases you in quite well. I haven't paid anything (never do in F2P) and still haven't hit a wall, but it's getting very difficult.
It's also available for both Android and iPhone, and unlike the other Puzzle & Dragon clones (and I have so far tried Gods & Dragons, Puzzle & Champions, Angel Salvation, Dragon Puzzle, Dragems, Tower of Saviors and Merlin's Rage) which all feel either cheap, very rushed or rather glitchy, Spirit Stones feels like a very solid gaming experience.
However, a warning... quite a few
characters evolve from this:
But if that is not your cup of tea, there are normal characters as well:
...and hey, blue bears...
First off, I also have to say that unlike Puzzle & Dragons, which to me feels very Japanese and thus difficult to understand unless you read tons of guides first, Spirit Stones felt quite easy to figure out on my own. It feels like a friendlier game with more intuitive interface design, despite containing a similar wealth of stats, numbers, items, stuff... and so on.
Ok, so instead of four elements you have four professions: Ranged (green), stealth (yellow), magic (blue) and warrior class (red). As is normal for these kinds of games, triggering three pieces of the same color activates any character in your party with the matching profession. One complex thing which wasn't immediately apparent though is that you have three different parties. One with four people in it for question, and two with up to eight people in it for raid boss battles and PvP.
The raid boss battles are basically random bosses which changes every week that seem to also trigger randomly, but when one is found, you and your friends have 2 hours to collaboratively take him down. Sure, it's very cheap that it uses a different stamina to get you to buy a different type of item to get rid of that timer, but I found the collaboration between friends a neat aspect.
PvP is however really, really poor. Even though you have to make a party for it, the only thing which happens is a screen telling you if you won or lost. No fun at all. I don't get why they didn't allow you to actually battle it out with other people's parties. That would have been so cool! Anyway... you can ignore it if you don't want to do it...
Things which makes battles interesting:
- Swords slash diagonally across the field. After a while, you learn to aim them in most situations to create nice combos.
- Bombs explode surrounding tiles, so you want these in the middle of the field to the optimal, not near the edge.
- Bows shoot out random arrows, which I think are entirely luck based. Trigger more than one bow at once, though, and odds for combos are good.
- Potions heal. Not much more to it (that I know of).
And of course chain enough of these together and an upgraded version will drop on the field. Dual swords (double slash), dynamite (clears three whole columns), triple arrows (shoots more arrows), large potions (heals more) and also a hammer. The hammer acts like a wildcard and it's essentially a free move that you trigger by touching it and then a nearby color and everything of that color will activate.
Things which makes battles even more interesting:
- Skulls deal damage to you unless you drop them off the field fast.
- Holy water deal damage to the enemy if you can drop it off the field fast enough.
- Chains need to be activated once before you can trigger whatever is chained.
- Vines spread unless you get rid of them quickly!
- Ice blocks need to be destroyed with swords, bombs or arrows, but contain powered up versions of the same.
...and there are at least two more things which can pop up during battles (that I've discovered so far), but I won't spoil them for you.
Then there's items and emblems and of course the spirit stones... and to tell you the truth, I haven't gotten that far yet to figure those out. Items go on characters, and spirit stones yield a bonus when activated, but the emblems, which is actually also the focus of PvP, is a bit of a mystery to me. I think if you collect them all you get a rare card?
Anyway, if you decide to start playing, here's some tips before I end this:
- The first rare card you will get is not an actual character card (this had me confused). It's actually just a card used to boost leveling, and it's not that rare after a while.
- Don't mindlessly evolve everything. Save your money, you will need it to avoid spending real cash.
- Enchant everything you want to evolve, however! A percentage of the stats do carry over!
- Once you have evolved a +++ of something, take note of what type of card is needed to convert it into a rare. It won't be the same type! Also, some cards are dead ends.
- Don't trigger more than one sword or bomb if they are very close to each other and can chain. You will get more combos from chains than blowing everything up at once.
- Remember to collect your daily reward in the shop, and also check the main menu for any rewards from friends or hell gate battles.
- Some rare characters have interesting skills which add more items to the playfield and such, which is worth keeping an eye out for.
PS. If someone can think of a better thread title, please for the love of all that is holy do!