Empires & Puzzles Review [The Match 3 RPG]

Empires and Puzzle RPG Screenshot with words, Old Cynic Review

I’ve been playing Empires and Puzzles (E&P) for 3½ years, and blogging about it for over 2, and it’s finally time to review what is possibly the best match-3 puzzle combat game available on iOS or Android. 

This is the first in a new series of mobile game reviews that I’ll be posting over the coming months. If you want to get an alert when I post a new one, be sure to Subscribe.

Once they’re posted, you’ll be able to find them here.

Is Empires & Puzzles worth playing in 2023?

Defo and I’ll explain why…

This post may contain speculation, personal opinion, adult comedy, and human error. It is not advice and is solely for entertainment and informational purposes.

An Introduction To Empires & Puzzles (Epic Gameplay Experience)

Empires & Puzzles was created by Small Giant Games and is available to download at the Google Play Store (Android) and Apple App Store (iOS) respectively.

At its core, it’s a free-to-play, Match-3 puzzle game with a twist. 

The twist is that you have Heroes who charge their Special Skills as you match tiles.

Each battle is a contest to defeat your enemies, be it a Titan, Monsters, or Player Defenses (PvP).

A dynamic world has been created around this concept, and as you make progress in the game, you’ll begin to notice how your decisions directly influence the outcome of battles. 

It’s a simple idea masterfully applied.  

Here’s a screenshot of a normal “Raid” battle (PvP):

Showing a Limit Broken 2 Ludwig Taunt Vs Attackers - Example 1

You can also check out this YouTube video to see how it all works.

Outside of puzzling, there are also buildings to upgrade, Heroes to discover, and new friendships to kindle. And it’s the friendship-making via the in-game Alliances, that really sets Empires & Puzzles apart.

The Pros of Empires & Puzzles: Possibly the Best Puzzle Combat Game

Empires & Puzzles is so good that you could easily play it daily for years without so much as a second thought!

The game assembles all the components required to create a captivating world inside of your mobile device.

The main storyline is currently on Season 5 (Dynasty Of Dunes), and there’s also loads of other stuff to do, like Events, Tournaments, Alliance Wars, Raids, Base-Building, Hero Leveling, and soon the recently announced, Hero League.

The Heroes in Empires & Puzzles are imaginative and their Special Skills can Synergize to help you win battles (meet Devana):

Screenshot of Devana's Card with Special Skills from the mobile game, Empires and Puzzles

There are so many Pros to E&P that it’s easier to break them down using bullet points: 

  • It’s a Free game and you can progress without spending a penny (Free 2 Play)
  • It’s possible to obtain good/top Heroes from Free Summons (although, you’ll need lots of luck)
  • The in-game animation is swift and responsive
  • Graphics and Hero design are pretty cool most of the time
  • Battles are well-designed and rely on strategy, sometimes feeling more like a game of chess
  • There are buildings to level and Hero/Troop Training options
  • Weekly Tournaments are the most fun you can have on your mobile phone
  • And the multiplayer aspects of Empires & Puzzles are phenomenal (you can join Alliances and have fun together)

The Cons of Empires & Puzzles (Gacha Money)

Empires & Puzzles is a business like any other, and the goal is to make profits.

The way E&P does this is by selling in-game currencies (Gems or Coins) that are used to (try and) obtain Heroes from the Summoning Portal [it’s a Gacha-style game with additional Micro Transactions available]. 

And when you first start playing E&P it can be tempting to try and chase a Hero you like the look of. -Meaning, you could easily spend more money than you’re comfortable with. 

But the odds are very low and your money could simply disappear without so much as a digital fart in the wind.

And here’s how it impacts the game: 

  • There is a “Power Creep” (new Heroes are stronger so they appear attractive to players)
  • Stronger Heroes can unbalance the game, or through sheer saturation leave you feeling apathetic about them
  • There can be up to 6 Pop-Up Ads to purchase in-game deals whenever you open the App or navigate from one place to another (this is annoying)

It also has the potential of impacting your wallet.

But these issues can be overlooked, depending on your personal threshold.

Fact is, most modern games apply this type of monetization and you’ll likely find a variation of it elsewhere. -So always think hard before spending money, no matter the game.

Empires & Puzzles: Match-3 RPG Review (My Final Thoughts)

I’ve been writing about Empires & Puzzles for over 2 years now and that says a lot.

E&P is particularly addictive because it’s both challenging and rewarding. 

My most enjoyable moments are found when helping my Alliance mates in the twice-weekly Alliance Wars, or when going against other “Defences” in the weekly Tournament. 

Empires & Puzzles is an incredibly well-conceived and precisely put-together mobile game. 

That said, we have recently experienced a changing dynamic brought about by the “Power Creep”. And that can mean sometimes facing insurmountable teams, no matter what strategy you employ. 

This affects the PvP World Leader Board and other Events, however, most of this gigantic game is still pretty much assessable to all, even to Free To Play players. 

The bottom line is, if you’re looking for a fun game that challenges you, keeps you interested, and offers you ways to make friends and work together, then Empires & Puzzles is by far the best choice I’ve come across.

It’s a fantastic game with a substantial and passionate player base.

Be sure to check out my Top 10 Tips to get you started. 

And feel free to have your say in the comments below!

If you’re looking for a new mobile game to play, you can find all of my reviews over here!

Old Cynic’s Grade:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Note: This review was based on the Apple App Store version of the game.

Copyright: oldcynic.com
Images are screenshots used by way of review/tutorial

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12 Comments

  1. I’ve been playing for almost 5 years now. My daughter is 4 years and 2 months old and I can still remember playing this in the hospital while I was waiting for my daughter to be born. The night we went to the hospital, my wife was also playing her account while the doctors are preparing the delivery room. (Yes, she used to play it too until she got over it because she found Royal Match more appealing, it’s like Candy Crush lol). I’m a C2P, and my roster are the weak ones. I’m happy to have Goretooth, Milena, Lord Loki (thanks to the Fated Summon). I think they are the best that I have.

    I like your posts and whenever I got 5* heroes, I immediately check whether you have a review of it. Most of the times you have though the rating is either Archangel or just Warrior 😅😅

    Keep it up. Your blog adds fun to the game. One thing I always look forward to.

    1. 😄 Wow, super sweet story. This is a hard game to get the superstars in but the Fated Summon and Soul Exchange have been great additions.

      Before the 3-Teir deities, as you might remember, there was only a deity above an Archangel… they meant something! Still, I hope I haven’t been too far of the mark over the years.

      Thanks for all the support, and for sharing PHLOL6.

      PS. I’ll add Royal Match to the timetable, let’s see what it’s about… It’s that King character!

  2. Thanks for your post. I’m closing in on 3 years in the game, and can’t remember a time when I wasn’t relying on Old Cynic. As always, your post is informative and entertaining.

    I disagree on one point you made. I think the power creep (really more of a power sprint) is tremendously impactful to all players, and especially to those who are newer, cheaper, or otherwise less powerful. I personally have never cared about cups/PVP ranking, but I do care about being able to complete events and compete in tournaments.

    With the accelerating pace of power creep, new events are being designed with top tier power in mind, making it more and more difficult to complete the events with a lower grade roster. I wouldn’t mind as much, but the newer events replace older events that are more accessible to newer, less powerful players.

    Tournaments are a similar story. The power creep isn’t just happening with the very top tier Legendary heroes. There is significant power creep with Rare and Epic heroes as well. In order to have any chance of being competitive in a tournament, you need to max heroes of that rarity and emblem them and limit break them and limit break them again. If they are older, you need to do the same with a costume or 2 to get them close to the stats of the newest heroes. It takes a tremendous amount of time and resources to do all this with a single hero, and you need dozens of them.

    One piece of advice I got early in the game was to finish events at the lowest rarity and become competitive in Rare tournaments to get more of the mats I’d need for Epic and Legendary heroes. So, I did. I was regularly in the top 5% in Rare tournaments. It helped me build a strong (if unspectacular) roster of maxed heroes. I play constantly, so I’ve “kept up” with the changes, but my teams are sliding down the leaderboards. Top 25% is now a more realistic goal. I’m not sure how a new C2P or F2P could possible build a team strong enough to compete.

    I agree with everything else you said. The game is fun. It’s varied. It has a lot to offer puzzlers, collectors, battlers, city builders and other types of gamers. I just wish they’d take their eyes off maximizing profits long enough to think about the new player experience. Otherwise, I’m concerned the flow of new players will stop and the game will follow suit.

    Thanks again for all your great posts. I’m looking forward to seeing what other games you review.

    1. Hey Xyfell, great comment and counter on the Power Creep. You’re right on what you say, enough for me to change that paragraph. I don’t know what they’re doing when you start E&P nowadays, but I’m currently testing another where they give you 5-Star heroes, which makes dealing with the PvP/PvE much more plausible.

      Thanks for taking the time to share so much detail on where the game is for you, cheers!

      I’m hoping to post these maybe once or twice a month. I want to play a game for at least a week or two before coming to conclusions and reviewing them.

      Thanks again!

      1. I agree about the power creep problem. I started playing 3 years ago and also created an account for my daughter to play. I played consistently and got my roster up at the time, but she was little with limited screen time and so she never got very far at the time. She got 1 5* hero and 3 4*, never leveled them up.

        After not playing on her account for a year we came back to it and she’s been playing a little more frequently, but everything is so hard now! She can’t complete the quests where you can actually earn the loot you need to progress (she can’t even get past the first 2-3 levels) and she can’t even ascend her one 5* one time because she can’t get the ascension items she needs to be able to get her past the first tier. She is really stuck. She doesn’t know it because she’s just a little kid, and just likes matching the squares. But I see it and feel frustrated that everything is so much harder now for her to break past the beginning levels.

  3. First of all, I LOVE your posts! Second, the power creep is there but after 4 years of playing, I have managed to accumulate heroes to be able to compete even in kingdom wars. What I dislike about the new(er) system is that it’s much harder to get the mats if you’re F2P/C2P. I understand the business part but those who don’t spend money are pretty much doomed IMHO. The game is about patience, among other things, but one has only so much patience. The titans aren’t as generous as they used to be and chests are poor more often than not. That’s what I see as a downside.

    1. Hey Makkie, thanks for sharing your experience! The game does give you heroes, but you’re very unlikely to get a T2/T3 without investing some cash. I agree re the mats too, I wish they would be more generous with even the elemental chests…

      Thanks for reading, Makkie!

  4. An honest review of the game! I’ve been playing since November 2017, I had a year of pause, and reactivated it because my uncle that he’s also playing the game. Unfortunately, I’m a spender and a bit disappointed in the amount of money spent to get a capable, new hero. From this point of view, I find the game unfair. Not to mention that since a year or so the rewards (loot) received from titans, daily quests, and wars have been reduced. Like others, I like the game but too much spending leads to frustration. Congrats on your work here OldCynic! You do a great job!

    1. Thank you Solaire, you’re right about spending money. It can lead to frustration but hopefully new players will read this and go in with eyes wide open.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  5. Enjoy your write ups very much! Interested in your opinion on the future of the game and its viability. I also enjoy playing the game, and I am okay spending a bit of money on it keeping within a budget. However I am concerned somewhat about posts on the forums regarding declining participation numbers. I do not follow gaming very closely or the industry but it appears these mobile games have somewhat of a shelf life. Having invested some money into it I definitely have a vested interest in it continuing. There are company updates every so often (usually beginning or end of year I can’t remember) that talk of new additions such as base upgrades or new game mechanics (dragons???) that never seem to materialize. Makes me wonder if developers have game on cruise control just milking it along.

    1. Hello Decus, it’s an interesting question. I keep up to date with the thread you’re referring to and have seen some indication from it, that there is a decline.

      Firstly, this review was incredibly difficult to write because on one hand you have a masterfully created game, while on the other, you have an aggressive monetisation strategy. At what point does the game no longer achieve high grades due to business practices?

      And I think the same question applies to the longevity of the game itself:

      At what point does the game fail due to business practices?

      But also, when would it have failed/ended anyway?

      I suspect we’re dealing with professionals (the business) who may have a structured and industry-based belief that games like these have a limited lifespan, therefore creating a pressure to capitalise on any financial opportunity now (based on in-game activity). But who knows if this is their view or not?

      It’s also the nature of modern business and capitalism. To squeeze out every penny. -which btw, I view as one defining weakness of modern society.

      That said, I’m not a mobile business guy, or even a professional game content creator… I got here by happenstance.

      For me, I expect the game to continue for years to come, but with the rate of new heroes, I’m not sure that the player base will be as concerned about the current meta. Maybe more causal players as people lose interest due to the method of monetisation and hero saturation?

      This would affect income, which might in turn affect longevity?

      However, I have no frame of reference for a business this large besides being on this side of their marketing (so can only surmise based on my own business & professional experience).

      Personally speaking, I believe there is a tie in that goes along with spending large sums of money on any game.

      It might leave you feeling like you can’t stop playing. And that feeling, as you say, may also leave you concerned that the game might end at X point/date.

      I’m no expert, but creating a gap between your spending and the present date is the only way I can see to alleviate that feeling.

      1. Thank you for taking time to convey your thoughts! I would feel a bit more confident I believe if some of the improvements they have brought up in past updates were coming to fruition. The fact that there is no Season 6, no dragons, no base upgrades seems ominous to me but that is my nature. I hope the game goes on for years to come since it takes that long to level heroes it seems!

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