Jewel Match Twilight Solitaire
Developer: Suricate Software | Publisher: Grey Alien Games | Release Date: 2018 | Genre: Casual / Indie | Website: n/a | Purchase: Steam
It is a testament to the addictiveness of solitaire that despite a free version of it being included in virtually every modern release of Windows, it is still a popular choice amongst both developers and players. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, though, as this card game has been going strong since the 18th century. Of course, since the market for solitaire games is a little crowded, it has resulted in plenty of original takes on the game. In most cases the rules remain the same, but everything is styled around a certain theme to provide the game with additional depth and charm. Grey Alien Games in particular have proven themselves to be quite adept at creating solitaire games that can suck you in and spit you out many hours later. In addition to their own highly acclaimed solitaire titles, such as Fairway Solitaire, Regency Solitaire and Shadowhand, they have also taken on publishing duties for Suricate Software, creators of Jewel Match Solitaire. However, where Jewel Match Solitaire was a fantastical journey across an ancient land to rebuild epic castles of old, Jewel Match Twilight Solitaire has a bit more bite.
Jewel Match Twilight Solitaire (JMTS from here on out) takes the series in a slightly more sinister direction thanks to its vampire theme. It still offers more than two hundred levels of solitaire, but this time your objective is to rebuild derelict castles. There are five of these castles and the parts that are required for their restoration can be purchased with the rubies you earn from completing levels. Playing through the levels also earns you gold, which can be used to purchase power-ups as well as upgrades from the in-game shop. However, don’t expect a game that veers quite as far into role playing territory as those created by Grey Alien Games, though. Instead, JMTS keeps things simple by sticking to solitaire and not incorporating elements like combat or statistics. It also doesn’t feature much in the way of a story either, so you’ll be playing purely for the satisfaction of completing levels and advancing across the map and not to discover the next plot twist.
For solitaire purist the only thing that will count is how the game plays and JMTS does not disappoint in this regard. It is a solid higher/lower solitaire game with three difficulty settings to choose from. You don’t even have to know how to play solitaire to enjoy this game as it features a tutorial to teach you the ropes. As is usual for the genre, things start out relatively straightforward, but eventually you will be dealing with a number of obstacles and challenges in your pursuit of a perfect three star run of the board.
Cards can be locked, chained, frozen and covered in vines, which can complicate things a bit. For example, you need to play frozen cards twice to clear them while locked cards require you to find a key. You will also want to clear as many cards as possible to create combos as these will multiply the coins that you earn. You can make life a little easier for yourself by using power-ups, such as shuffles, wild cards, or jokers. Other goodies in the shop range from a deck counter that shows you exactly how many cards are left in the stack, more cards added to our stack and even the ability to remove any selected card from the board.
Earning three gold stars on a level is not only very satisfying, but these stars also serve another purpose as they can be used to unlock the bonus mahjong levels that are included with the game. There are 50 of them in total and they not only add some variety to the game, but also come in handy on those occasions where you are stuck on the solitaire levels and need a break. Unlike the straight up vampire theme of the solitaire decks, the mahjong games feature a more Halloween-like theme with black cats, ghosts, skeletons, witches hats and voodoo dolls on the tiles. Although the mahjong bonus levels feature a timer you don’t have to worry about running out of time. This is because the timers are just for you to keep track of your own personal leaderboards, so you can play the mahjong levels at your own pace if you prefer.
Visually, JMTS is a polished looking game, although fans of vampires will obviously enjoy its theme the most. There are a number of styles to choose from for the backs and fronts of the cards, although only the face cards feature vampires. A nice touch about the backgrounds for the levels is the fact that they feature the castle that you are currently trying to rebuild. Therefore, you can actually see your castle taking shape as you progress through the levels and, as an added bonus, when you complete a castle you can then use the image for your Windows wallpaper if you want.
As befitting of a vampire themed game you’ll hear plenty of haunting tunes in the background while playing JMTS. Seeing as there are so many levels, the music can become a little repetitive after a while, but this is to be expected. The game does allow you to adjust the volume levels for the music, sound and ambient effects independently. The controls for JMTS is straightforward and everything felt responsive, so we don’t have any complaints. In total, it took us about 14 hours to complete every solitaire level in the game and earn all 24 Steam Achievements, but there were still plenty of mahjong levels left to tackle. So, if you are a fan of solitaire, then you definitely don’t have to worry about value for money with this title.
Overall, Jewel Match Twilight Solitaire is a solid entry in a crowded genre. The lack of story and RPG elements could disappoint some players who have come to expect it from the genre, but those who want to get straight to the solitaire will have a blast. The visuals are good, but whether you like it or not will depend largely on what you think about vampires. The different obstacles in the game keep things interesting and there is an abundance of levels to complete, so if you are a solitaire fan, then you really shouldn’t hesitate to add this title to your collection.