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Bejeweled 3 (PC) artwork

Bejeweled 3 (PC) review

"This gem has withstood the test of time, so far."

Bejeweled 3 (PC) image

Let me say straight up that I am generally not a fan of puzzle games. This is not because I do not like having my brain teased; I thoroughly enjoy games that make me think, but I would rather deal with the complex problems associated with, say, a two-front war in Master of Orion 2 or finding my way out of GlaDOS’ nightmarish death traps in Portal than sitting down for a rousing session of Minesweeper. Puzzle games have a tendency to be quite dry and not very stimulating, despite the fact that they exercise the brain. I simply prefer my games to be as immersive and all-encompassing as possible.

With that said, it’s a bit strange that Bejeweled 3 has remained on my hard drive and I find myself occasionally loading it up. It boasts that it is “The World’s #1 Puzzle Game”, and I can see why. It has a simple, yet highly satisfying structure to it. The board is full of crystals of various colours, and by swapping two adjacent crystals, you make matches of three or more. When a match is made, those crystals disappear from the board, gravity pulls the remaining crystals down, and more are added from the top. If falling crystals make another match, it is considered a “combo” and you earn more points. Matching sets of four or more crystals will spawn power crystals that can be used to clear larger sections of the board. The more you clear, the more points you earn. Simple.

Bejeweled 3 (PC) image

And since it is the third iteration of the series, it has plenty of extra features to push things further and encourage repeat play, even for someone like me who hates doing the same thing over and over again. There are four game modes to start with, and four unlockable modes on top of that. One of them is a “quest” mode that features forty individual stages, each with their own unique objectives such as “Clear 120 gems in 20 moves!” or “Match 10 bombs before they count down to zero!” There are also badges to be earned (i.e., achievements) for completing certain tasks, which come in various tiers (bronze, silver and gold). Thus, there is actually a lot here to spice up the variety and satisfy the completionist or achievement-based gamers out there.

Bejeweled 3’s aesthetics are another reason for its longevity. It has a nice art style, 3D elements where appropriate, and an attractive UI. As you complete the "Classic" mode, you will advance through various stages that feature beautiful hand-painted backgrounds. The voice work of the narrator, who sounds a bit like Peter Cullen, is excellent. The game also features jaunty, orchestral music that makes you feel like you’re on a heroic journey even though you’re just swapping gemstones around. The sound effects also provide satisfying feedback. The combination of all of these things provide a nice sensory experience.

Bejeweled 3 (PC) image

It has also aged quite well. You might think that a game released in 2010 would look dated, but it doesn’t. I assume that this is partly to due to fact that there isn’t a lot to screw up here graphics-wise, but the folks at PopCap Games must've been thinking ahead when they included hardware acceleration and resolutions of up to 1920x1200 (the game actually warns you that putting the resolution that high will decrease gameplay performance. How quaint!) It’s a royal treatment for a puzzle game, and it looks great.

The only real gripe I have with Bejeweled 3 is that it is, in fact, a puzzle game. Despite all of its pretty window-dressing, the core of the game is still pretty basic and repetitive. All you do is swap crystals over and over again, and despite the variations in game modes, quests, et cetera, it gets a little boring after a while. I imagine that there are people out there who can enjoy themselves for hours with Bejeweled 3, but I typically find myself moving on within an hour. The difference is that I keep coming back, unlike most other puzzle games out there. There’s a lot to be said for that.


Nightfire's avatar
Community review by Nightfire (March 18, 2017)

Nightfire is a reclusive dragon who lives in a cave with internet access. Steam ID here.

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