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iPhone  header logo

Spirit Stones

For: iPhone   Also on: Android, iPad

Celebrating the spirit of in-app purchases

Product: Spirit Stones | Publisher: Gamevil | Format: iPhone | Genre: Card battler, Puzzle | Players: 1 | Version: US | App version: 1.0.1
 
Spirit Stones iPhone, thumbnail 1
A rose by any other name smells just as sweet. And let's face it - Puzzle & Dragons by any other name is still a time-sink.

Gamevil’s Spirit Stones is yet another puzzle-battle game that will gobble up at least a few hours of your time, though if you're already familiar with the genre it won't take you long to notice the difficulty spike, which is followed, of course, by some gentle prodding in the direction of the in-game store.

Spirit Stones is set in a fantasy world on the verge of apocalypse. An ancient evil has broken free of its seal, and you need to summon warriors and set things right. Don’t expect any kind of story progression or resolution: Spirit Stones's setup is just an excuse to let you wail on beasties.

Match three, kill monsters

IAPs explained
Spirit Stones is free to play, but it offers an extensive in-game store. Players can buy wine (which refills stamina), gems, gold, and cards. Gems come in bundles ranging in price from £1.49 / $1.99 to £69.99 / $99.99.

You'll find it hard to make significant progress in Spirit Stones without making some in-app purchases. This game doesn't make progression easy for freeloaders.
And that's okay, because knocking around your enemies in Spirit Stones is good fun. You never need a complicated reason to bash in some goblin heads.

You shouldn't have any trouble adapting to Spirit Stones if you’ve pecked at Puzzle & Dragons at least once. You collect cards of varying rarities that serve as your warriors. Level after level pits you against bad guys, and the strength of your attacks depends on how you manipulate the coloured gems on the game board.

As with most puzzle-battle games, rare cards are generally more powerful than the common drops that come after a dungeon raid. You can power-up your favourite cards by feeding them lesser cards. You can also evolve cards by pairing up doubles and paying a fee.

Evolved cards are more powerful than their predecessors, and, more importantly, higher-tier cards can level-up and grow far beyond the low level cap imposed on first-tier cards.

Strong connections

While Puzzle and Dragons has you matching-up three or more coloured orbs by pulling pieces around the board, executing an attack in Spirit Stones is a simpler matter of connecting three or more identical orbs.

Each fighter in your roster has a class, and each class has a colour. When a connection is made, the fighter bearing that colour launches an attack. The more orbs you link, the stronger the jab.

You can also connect swords, bombs, and arrows that destroy random, unconnected orbs. Doing so feeds power into fighters that would otherwise sit out attack rounds because their colours didn't come up.

There are even swirling colour portals that let you link two different-coloured strings of orbs. If you pay attention and think out each move, you can wind up delivering some devastating attacks.

Victory for sale

You need every speck of strategy and luck available to you if you want to get ahead in Spirit Stones. It's a rough game. The difficulty soars early in the experience, and it's impossible not to wonder if this "free" game's level of challenge is actually fair.

To return to Spirit Stones's obvious inspiration, the challenge in Puzzle & Dragons climbs slowly, and the game gives you ample opportunity to build up your army. You win plenty of cards after battles, which can go back into levelling up your main roster. Puzzle & Dragons is also generous with handing out hard currency, so it's not a huge chore to save up magic stones and try an occasional rare card draw.

By comparison, it's quite rare to win cards at the end of a battle in Spirit Stones unless you play a level several times over. Easier said than done: every time you enter a level, you use up stamina. Stamina refills slowly over time, but it can also be bought with the game's hard currency (wine and gems, in this case).

If you don't mind playing intermittently you'll be fine with Spirit Stones's wait timers, but more committed gamers will find the interruptions intolerable.

Having no cards means it's difficult to power-up your deck unless you spend some gems. Said gems are rarely handed out as freebies, so if you want 'em, you're probably going to have to buy 'em.

Cards With Friends

To its credit, Spirit Stones has robust multiplayer options that offer a nice change of pace when the single-player campaign gets on your last nerve. Once you reach level 10, you can pit your deck against other players to win glory and gold. If you perform especially well, you can win cards.

There's even a "Hellgate" multiplayer mode that lets you and your friends team up and take on particularly nasty monsters. If you have confidence in your deck, visit the Hellgate for an ego boost (or deflation).

Spirit Stones is good fun at the outset, but the misjudged currency system ensures that it stops being fun as soon as the enemies start making mincemeat out of you. Paying to enhance your enjoyment of a freemium game is one thing, but paying to temporarily get yourself out of a pit of difficulty or to avoid a lengthy wait is an acquired taste at best.
 
Spirit Stones
Reviewer photo
Nadia Oxford | 11 November 2013
Spirit Stones is a solid puzzle-battle game, but progression is difficult if you don't want to spend money on new cards and stamina refills.
 
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Nov 2013
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Sam Miltion | 07:35 - 26 November 2013
One of the most fun TCGs I've played in a while, check out the wiki I started here:

http://www.SpiritStonesWiki.com
 
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