Last Temple is a new Facebook game from Ganymede. The game is a remake of a mobile title from last year — the series has since moved on to Last Temple 2 on iPad.
Last Temple takes place on a hex-based grid. Various symbols fall into the slots on the grid and must be removed by matching contiguous groups of three or more. This is achieved by clicking and dragging a line between them, at which point they disappear and change the color of the slot they were in. If the slot was yellow, it turns blue. If it was metallic, it turns yellow. The aim of each level is to turn every slot in the grid blue before the time limit expires.
As the game progresses, the player gains access to a variety of powerups that appear on the grid. A few of these are explicitly explained in the initial tutorial, but the remainder are organically introduced as the player progresses through the game’s levels. Most of them take the form of overlays on the existing tiles which must be matched as part of a group, at which point they explode, rain fireballs down on the play area or turn groups of tiles blue. Later levels also introduce obstacles to make the matching process more difficult — in some levels, for example, part of the board is on fire. The flames gradually move across the board as the level progresses, and players are unable to match any tiles that are currently ablaze.
The player makes progress through the game in several ways. Firstly, they must complete the game’s challenges in a linear path in order to unlock new ones. Secondly, each play awards the player experience points, which contributes to an overall experience level. At various level milestones, new features become unlocked, with the main attractions being the powerups that become available for purchase at levels 5, 13 and 21.
Leveling up also restocks the player’s cache of lives, allowing them to continue playing for longer, as Last Temple takes the approach that any attempt at a challenge, regardless of whether or not it is successful, costs a life. While a relatively effective monetization strategy similar to an energy system, in this type of game it is much more fair to the player to only cost them a life when they fail a level, rather than when they begin one. In this way, players are encouraged to play skilfully rather than to attempt to “brute-force” their way through the game — those who play well will be rewarded by being able to play longer, while those less skilful can take advantage of the purchasable powerups.
Despite this issue, Last Temple is a very good game. It provides an original twist on the all-too-stale puzzle game genre and does so with excellent audio-visual presentation. It’s a lot of fun to play and seems to be quite well-balanced — it’s generally quite easy to get through most levels, but to achieve the three “high score” medals on each stage is much more challenging — and, in some cases, may give players a nudge in the direction of the monetization options, particularly if they are competing against their friends.
A quality puzzle game marred only slightly by an overly-harsh “lives” mechanic.