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Candy Crush Saga (PC) artwork

Candy Crush Saga (PC) review


"You can buy what for $150?"


Exploitative social media gaming. I just wanted to get that out of the way. King has made millions of dollars toying with our problem solving wonts. This is a bad thing? For them and us, its been an unstable source of revenue and entertainment. In 2012 this was the new enterprise, but we’re swimming in the plethora of Facebook and mobile games available at our fingertips. How well does this early representative hold up, five years later?

First of all, it’s a match three game with a slew of mechanical tricks up its sugary sleeves. After you’ve linked your Facebook account with the game, you’re given a few lives and then encouraged to invite all of your friends to play. You'll then receive a few samples of the items they’d like to you buy later, and sent on your treat vandalizing way.

Each level takes place on a grid, and you’re given a goal to achieve before the counter of moves reaches zero. Fail and you lose a life, which can be replenished in a few ways: Every twenty four hours you receive one, and then you can send and receive lives from your friends. Even though you can’t have more than five lives at any given time, a steady stream of invitations can keep you topped up most of the time.

You see, Candy Crush is enjoyable like actual candy. Give us a problem and we want to solve it. We don’t think too hard about the reward, but we hope it’s something like cake. As the warning goes, however, “the cake is a lie.” The reward is dopamine. A little chemical kick in your brain that you feel when you eat candy.

Since we have so much frustration in our lives, (read: we feel powerless about things we can’t control), it makes sense that ten minutes here and there spent problem solving improves our sense of well being. I admit I don’t have a problem at all with that. Candy Crush is a good mental exercise, and you feel less frustrated about life afterward. You even help your friends who play, too. That’s pretty cool.

CCS’ visual aesthetic is to say the least sugary, almost acrid trying too hard to sell its bright, frosting coated reality. Let’s put it like this: How hard does a cupcake have to try? It just sits there with some icing and before you know it all you’ve got is crumbs, an empty wrapper and a dejected look on your face. CCS doesn’t have that sort of confidence; it keeps trying to get you to eat the rest of the batch. Fortunately, we’re here for the puzzling, not the visuals.

Apart from matching three to eliminate a group of candies, CCS has three primary switching mechanics to keep in mind while you play. Matching four candies creates a striped powerhouse that can clear an entire row either horizontally or vertically. Matching five creates a chocolate sprinkled doughnut that will eradicate every candy of the colour it is next matched with. Match an angled pattern of six and you’ll create a wrapped candy that will explode, destroying nine candies in all.

Then there are special ways to eliminate a lot of candies on the board in a hurry. Match two striped candies together and they’ll wipe out two lines in a cross pattern. Match a striped candy with a wrapped one and watch it balloon to clear three rows horizontally and vertically. Don’t forget the doughnut, either! By matching it with a striped or wrapped candy, all the candies of that color turn into the special type.

You’re going to need those confectionery smushing powers, too. Obstacles such as licorice cages, jelly blocks, frost blocks that require multiple hits, and short fused bombs are going to test your skills and patience. Additionally, Chocolate blocks regenerate if not broken during that turn. They’ll even cover the entire board if you don’t stop them. Patience is hard to lose, playing CCS, there’s no question that it’s a relaxing game.

However, if all of this sounds taxing, it is. All those special candies power ups are plentiful enough to add an element of randomness to your best laid plans. You’ll find the first few levels to be pretty easy going until CCS unleashes super hard difficulty on you. Then you’re going to start using the items they gave you, and more than likely, running out of lives. King is close at hand with some paid options, though.

A few of these include a red candy hand that lets you move any candy one direction without using up a turn. Jellyfish will spawn out of a matched set and break same coloured bricks, whereas the powdered sugar lollipop lets you break any block you want. You’ll even receive a sprinkling of items to remind you they exist. There plenty to chose from and there is plenty of pressure to use them.

Here’s where things get a little shady, and not the slim one. In your adventures to save candy land, presumably – there are paper puppet cut-scenes that try to sell the idea you’re making everyone’s life better spreading the sugary love. The art always struck me a insincere, slow, and a distraction from the manic confection demolition at hand.

By that as it may, the first twenty levels are a cinch once you get used to the mechanics. That, of course, is by design. You’re being introduced to the special candies and paid power ups, and as things get tougher, you’ll be tempted to use them. Routinely you’ll be given more of these by means of a candy wheel. This you’ll spin once a day. Then there are the paper wrapped candies you collect to give you a handful of paid tricks.

If that sounds generous, I should tell you it’s feasible to play Candy Crush and not spend a single cent on gold for items. When you see how much you can spend in a single sitting, you may want to avoid it. Prices range from $2.80 to $150. Don’t gawk for too long: This sort of excess is run-of-the-mill for microtransactions. Just ask Team Fortress 2 about crates and hats, but don’t leave your wallet unattended. Some players actually make a living selling these virtual items.

The currency that microtransaction games truly peddle is our time. I’ve heard a reasonable approach from more than a few players who only spend what they feel the game is worth once, or once a month. How much would I spend? It’s actually unreasonable to think that Candy Crush would survive as a single payment product. King has based its livelihood on this premise, and you can find over a dozen other games in its library to try if you ever tire of obliterating these digital dainties.

When you run out of lives you're given the uncomfortable choice of deciding to beg your friends for more lives or play one of King's many paper-thin alternatives. CCS' questionable aesthetic and extremely lazy single song soundtrack are barely worth mentioning. In fact, it's only because I mute the audio and listen to something else that I mention it at all. CCS is a lazy grab at your wallet, and most players are bored with it now.

Play it, or don't, but if you're looking for something deeper, this isn't it.

4/5

hastypixels's avatar
Community review by hastypixels (August 31, 2017)

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