Tuesday, March 20, 2007

RPGs Infiltrate the Puzzle Genre

This is a bit out of left field, but I've been noticing recently that some puzzle games have been assimilating various Role Playing Game (RPG) elements in them. Two upcoming DS games, Zendoku and Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords, both incorporate battling and experience-gathering into traditional puzzle games (Sudoku and Bejeweled, respectively). The popular PopCap word-game Bookworm has also received a similar treatment with last year's Bookworm Adventures, which adds many game mechanics that RPG-veterans will immediately recognize. This latest PopCap installment goes so far as to feature turn-based combat (using words as your weapons), potions to heal you, and damage-modifying gems.

Personally, I welcome any game that decides to blend elements of different genres together, as long as it's done well. Games that incorporate RPG elements are especially great, because adding that sense of growth in power and accomplishment can be extremely addicting. If you've ever played the Diablo series you will know how addicting this concept can be. The game play wasn't incredibly deep, nor was the story very involving, yet the game drew you in and always kept you saying, just one more dungeon, or one more experience level.

In a way, the different genres are bending more and more towards one another. I think what we will begin to see is blurring of the lines between what is hybrid and what is traditionally a separate genre. It's happening in many subtle ways, but eventually, I don't think you will be able to easily classify games as Shooter, or RPG, or Racing, or RTS, etc. Mass Effect has Shooter elements within it, Gran Turismo is part RPG and part driving sim, and then you've got games like GTA that encompass a little bit of everything. This is the direction gamnig is headed, and I'm exciting. In the end, when it really comes down to it, does it really matter what genre a game is if you enjoy playing it?

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