FIRST LOOK: Gems Of War - Nintendo Switch


When you’re playing Gems of War on your wee Nintendo Switch, there’s a thought that hangs in your head - a thought you can’t easily ignore. That thought is: “I’m playing absolute garbage.”

But is it garbage? Is it really? Or have we just been programmed to instantly assume that any kind of easy-to-play, real money-sapping free-to-play game is automatically a bad thing built on weak foundations? What is our response when we enjoy every second of that ever-satisfying match-three gameplay loop? What do we do then? Where is your god now?

Gems of War is fun. Oh, man. It’s fun. It’s that match-three stuff we all know and love, but with a little bit of collect-a-card Magic The Gathering special sauce. The developers of ye olde Puzzle Quest —

Here, what a game Puzzle Quest was, by the way. I must have bought it about five time over the years. Best on the DS, of course. Man, do you remember Zoo Keeper on DS anaw? What a belter that was. I miss the past.
— Rab Florence, consolevania

— have refined their catchy hit and covered it in confetti, hanging it up like a big pinata. As you approach it, blindfolded, with a big stick, determined not to spend any real money, you find yourself building teams of troops ready to complete quests and conquer secret missions. Of course, all of this is just match-three mayhem. There’s no real RPG element. You can’t talk to the gems, for example. You can’t marry one of the wee skulls that drop down onto the playboard. But it’s enough - that’s the thing with these games - it’s enough as it is.

Imagine you were a heroin addict, mad on the old heroin. And you went to your drug dealer and he was like that - “Heroin’s nice, eh?” And you’re like that “Aye, in some ways.” And then the drug dealer goes “Do you want to try this super-heroin? Basically you just get your syringe full of heroin and then put that inside another giant syringe, and then you inject the lot.” And you’d be like that “Fuck it, I don’t understand this timeline anyway. Go for it.” And then he’s like that “But maybe you’d prefer this super-super-heroin? It’s a big giant metal spoon, for you to melt your giant syringe with the wee syringe inside it, and then you can pour it into a bong and smoke it. Through a big pipe made of cocaine.”

As you lay down to die in that junkie flat in Shettleston, what you’d be experiencing would pretty much be what Gems of War has done. The match-3 game, addictive in itself, is supported by sparkly keys that unlock fancy chests that spit out new troops, and coins, and gems. You get coins just for logging in. You can form a guild for you and your pals. You can level up and level up and level up and unlock new abilities and your eyes are rolling back and you’re away to meet your maker on a sticky carpet in the East End of Glasgow.

This is a good game, is what I’m saying. Objectively, this is a good game. But it’s got some evil syrup on it. It’s sticky with bad ethics. But it’s so much fun. And maybe just one more battle would be good. One more battle and a wee -

Hey! Do you know if you spend real money on stuff in this game, it awards you points towards a VIP status. I want to be a VIP! Let me be a VIP!


Get me aff it!

Gems of War is available to download on Nintendo Switch now. It’s free anaw. Good luck with that