We love puzzle games wrapped up in good narrative elements, and Indiana Jones and the Lost Puzzles wears its licensing like a custom fit fedora. In Lost Puzzles you’re not just solving a colorful tile-matching puzzle, but you’re helping the one and only Indiana Jones collect priceless artifacts in ruinous ancient temples, and helping him avoid falling to his death.
The basic puzzle gameplay puts Indy in your control as you make him hop from tile to tile trying to match as many of the same colors as possible. It reminds us a lot of the scene in The Last Crusade where Indy has to spell out the name of God on the ground by hopping from lettered tile to lettered tile, only in this game you’re not spelling words, but matching colors within a time limit.
Once you match three or more tiles, they disappear and new colored tiles appear in their place. Indy usually must snag a certain number of each color within the time limit before he can proceed to a new level. As time ticks down, the tiles begin to shake and rubble starts to fall from the ceiling, adding some tension to the brainteasing.
The booby-trapped temples are full of spike traps, gold statuettes and, yes, snakes. Each of these items from the Indy movies has an effect on the puzzle. For example, the snakes move around the tiled floor every time Indy hops to a new tile, and because of his fear of snakes, he can’t jump over them. The snakes can stop your colored tile combos and cause you to run out of time quite often.
The main game mode, called Ruins of Adventure, puts you in the deadly ruins of Cairo, South America, and the Venice Catacombs. Each puzzle you solve earns you a gem that’s placed on a game board, and grouping gems of the same color next to each other yields huge bonuses at the end of the adventure. Collecting these gems and trying to strategically place them next to each other is easily the most compelling part of Lost Puzzles. This is where the game liberally sprinkles in creative game variants on the core game and scripted events.
One game variant replaces all matched tiles with tiles that shoot bamboo spikes from the ground, limiting Indy’s movement. A scripted event may include snakes randomly appearing before a puzzle starts, so you know that you’re going to have to deal with them during the puzzle. Ruins of Adventure mode really adds some much-needed context to the puzzles, and makes hopping Indy from tile to tile seem as if you’re really adventuring through ancient temples with him.
We liked collecting the gems in Ruins of Adventure, but we found trying to line them up on the game board for those huge bonuses was incredibly frustrating. The game randomizes what gems you can solve puzzles for, so trying to get 3 blues in a line is rare when you could also get yellows, reds and the like.
Also, we were so wrapped up in the blending of puzzles and fun Indiana Jones theme that we’re not sure if the puzzle elements are actually well-designed. In other words, it’s hard to know if your success at the puzzles is because you are good at the game, or just getting fortunate tile drops. We matched 12 tiles in a row: was that because we are awesome, or were they kind of just lined up that way?
Indiana Jones and the Lost Puzzles is a fun little puzzle game that fully embraces the Indiana Jones spirit. It’s not as cool as getting to drink from the true holy grail, but if you are an Indiana Jones fan, you should probably crack your whip, throw a couple darts at Shia LaBeouf’s picture, and download yourself this quality puzzle game.