Bret Airborne takes a very different approach than 10,000,000 and feels much more like Puzzle Quest. You will be using an overworld map in order to navigate around the world and along the way you’ll encounter several different things. Of course, most of your time will be spent doing match three gameplay, it comes in two distinct flavors.
The first of which is the most common - battles. You’ll encounter other air balloons quite often and need to battle against them. When battling, basic Bejeweled rules apply with some extra consequences. You can move one gem at a time and if it creates a match of at least three, those are cleared and your turn ends. If you are able to match four, you will gain a bonus turn and increase your side of the playing field. If you can't match one, you'll still have to make a move, but will decrease your side for your opponents next turn.
If you can continue to match four or more you can continue to earn turns and increase your side of the field. However, the divider resets itself at the end of your turn so your bonuses do not carry over. This adds an important bit of strategy to _Bret Airborn’s match three because you can set yourself up to get matches as the available playing space increases.
The pieces that you are matching each have a special purpose. The colored ones are resources you will want to collect in order to perform special attacks. The chests create random new pieces when combined. Then there is armor to earn and bombs to line up for attacks.
There are also partially constructed towers that you will find on each world map; sometimes more than one. You can visit these and then play a match three where you battle a timer to gain a certain amount of matches. Successfully reaching the goal will rebuild the tower and then any enemies that come through there will be slowed down. I have to say though, I often found I had cleared a map of enemies before constructing towers so they didn’t often do me much good.
As I mentioned, there are special attacks on top of the basic attacks. You will be able to buy many different special attacks that can give you a huge strategic advantage. For example, being able to prevent someone from using special attacks for several turns; or preventing them from being able to use certain gems for a few turns. To buy these, you will need to find and visit shops that appear on the map where you can spend gold you’ve earned.
Now, I think the biggest question when it comes to a puzzle RPG style game is if it gets boring. Bret Airborn is paced much slower than the aforementioned _10,000,000, but it still moves at a steady pace. There are a lot of places to go, enemies to attack and special attacks to acquire along with passive effects. There is just a massive amount of content here. It will indeed take you a fair amount of time to explore, but it’s a fantastic game to sit down with a podcast and play through.
My biggest hesitation in coming in to writing this review is that I am nearly halfway done with what the game tells me is 100% exploration and I wasn’t sure that was “enough”. I think that it really speaks for this game though in the amount of content you are receiving. I am looking forward to continuing towards that 100%, but wanted to take the time to spread the word first.
You probably already know if you like match three games and if you do, _Bret Airborn is a solid addition to your collection and will keep you entertained for a long time.