Earlier this year, a cute little puzzle RPG named Glyph Quest (Free) was released. It was one of those games that was pretty hard to put down until it was finished, but it was unfortunately also one of those games that finished a bit too quickly. The game used the shareware-style model of being free to download and play up until a certain level, at which point you could pay to unlock the rest of the game. That’s a great way to do things, but it hid one of the game’s most interesting gameplay features behind that paywall, so I think a lot of people ended up sleeping on it. Well, the developer’s back to take another kick at the can with Super Glyph Quest ($3.99), a sort of-sequel that keeps the same great core of the original while simultaneously attempting to address most of its faults. Depending on what your particular issues were with the first game, there’s a good chance you’ll find this version of the game to be good enough to kick the original off of your device for good.
The story takes place 1000 years after the first game with a new customizable character as the lead. Like in the first game, it’s mostly an excuse to cart out jokes and humorous pop culture references, with an added layer of absurdity coming from sidequests featuring characters from pigeon dating simulation Hatoful Boyfriend, and popular comic book Skullkickers. One of the criticisms I made in my review of the first game was that it was a bit light on content. By comparison, the sequel is packed with quests, and when you finish those, there’s still an endless mode to play along with several missions that can be repeated as many times as you like. While the first game was something you could reasonably finish in a weekend and likely never look back, this one will last quite a bit longer.
For those not familiar with the first game, it’s basically a color-matching game with RPG elements. You have a certain number of pieces on the board spread among several different elements, though the size of the board and the number of elements will depend on how far into the game you’ve gotten. You battle against monsters, thieves, and wildlife by matching two or more pieces of the same element. Each match does damage to the enemy, after which they’ll reply with an attack of their own. Depending on how many of each element you use, a different spell will be cast, with the more potent ones involving using as many of the same element in one match as possible. If you make multiple matches of the same element, you’ll build up a chain, and if you follow it by matching that element’s opposite, you’ll do heavy damage but reset your chain. You have to be careful about opposite elements because if you match them together, instead of dealing damage, you’ll receive it.
The battle system is essentially unchanged here, save for a few little tweaks. There are two new elements you’ll eventually have to deal with, and you’ll also frequently have to face off against multiple opponents, which is fun and sometimes very frustrating. Upon leveling up, you can choose between a few different improvements for your character, so there’s a bit of customization involved. Enemies will now drop various bits and pieces that you can use to craft new robes and staves. This takes the place of the previous game’s loot pieces, so you can’t count on randomly getting a health potion or the like during the middle of a fight. The different pieces of equipment are basically equal in strength, differing mainly in which elements or status ailments they enhance or protect against, so it’s worth collecting the whole lot. As before, new enemies and spells are tracked and recorded in galleries you can view whenever you like. The text in the descriptions is sometimes funny so you’ll definitely want to check those out.
The world map is a lot bigger this time to accommodate all of the new stages. You have to flick around to the various locations to magnify them and check any active quests in them. The game is pretty good about automatically sending you wherever you need to go next, but you’ll almost always want to stop off in town between battles to replenish your inventory. This game is significantly more difficult than the previous title, partly because it’s harder to abuse reversals, but also due to multiple enemies being able to pile up status effects on you much more quickly. If you take the quests as they come, you’re going to reach a point very quickly where it’s nearly impossible to win without chugging a couple of health potions. Those aren’t free, of course, and if you use them and fail, you still lose the items, so gold can get to be an issue if you have a run of bad luck. If this happens, there’s little choice but to head to one of the adventure points and grind up some experience and cash before tackling the quest again.
The presentation is nearly identical to the first game, with very cute chibi-style characters and a generally muted palette of colors. There are a lot more enemies, spells, and locations this time around, so there is actually a fair amount of new things to see. The music is new, though I found it to be a little bit less catchy than the first game’s soundtrack. The UI also hasn’t changed much, though the new map is a bit cumbersome to navigate. There is once again support for Game Center leaderboards, but no achievements. Most noticeably, Super Glyph Quest is using a different pay model from the first game, with an upfront price instead of being free with a full game unlock. The game includes no IAP of any sort at the moment, though the developer has mentioned a lot of people are asking for the ability to buy gold pieces, so that could change. The game also spends a bit less time holding your hand in the beginning, giving you access to the interesting bits of the game much sooner.
Simply put, if you enjoyed Glyph Quest but found there wasn’t enough substance to satisfy, you’re going to love Super Glyph Quest. If you missed out on the original, this sequel surpasses it sufficiently to render it redundant, so you might as well start here. It may be a variation on a relatively tired theme, but it’s a solidly-constructed one with a good sense of humor and a few interesting hooks of its own. Its difficulty balancing is a little bit out of whack, but even if you have to take to some grinding, it’s fairly minimal and it just means more puzzling fun. The gameplay doesn’t present a dramatic change over the previous game, making this more of a Turbo Champion Edition or something, but full-fledged sequel or not, for a few bucks, it’s hard to go wrong here.