Unfortunately I’m going to have to disappoint you – I’m not actually going to write a review of Puzzle Quest here; there are plenty of good ones already out there. The one thing I will say is that the game ended far earlier than I imagined – it comes with a large, scrollable world map, and when I reached the final mission, at least half of it was unexplored. I was quite relieved though, as I’d already spent a good dozen hours playing it and was getting worried at the amount of time I was wasting (and yes, I call it wasting, because even though playing Bejeweled is sometimes fun, there are more interesting ways to have fun).
Up until the final mission, I’d sailed through the game, having discovered a strategy that would reliably defeat all opponents except in the unluckiest of games (wear the Firewalker’s Staff, then cast Hand of Powe twice, then Fireball on the densest collection of skulls you can find, in case you were interested). I assumed that the final mission would be tricky and require a few tries, but I’ve found it so overwhelmingly difficult that I’ve just given up. Your opponent in the mission, Lord Bane, frankly has spells so powerful that they break the game; the only way to beat him is to be extremely lucky. On one try, I almost succeeded, but even then I knew that it was a complete fluke. A disappointing end to an otherwise entertaining and impressively addictive game.
(Incidentally, I don’t think that the computer cheats in Puzzle Quest – I often had incredibly good luck in battles. But I do consider the setup of the final battle to be cheating.)
On a completely different note, there’s an interesting discussion going on at the Apolyton forums. What would happen if:
…in the blink of an eye the United States of America as it exists right now is placed on a imaginary Earth where humans have been extinct since the late stone age. To the Americans it seems like every country in the world has instantly reverted to a pristine natural state without any infrastructure or population and with undepleted resources. They have no instant explanation, but assume that with a few months of research they could realize they were dropped off on a alternative Earth.
Of course, this is a completely fantastical scenario, but it’s educational to speculate on because it reveals a lot of assumptions about America’s economy, military, politics, religion, ethnic groups, all sorts of issues. What would the military/industrial complex do without any enemies to fight? Would religious groups go to found new colonies? Would expatriates in the US want to re-establish their home countries? Could America retain high-technology (e.g. computer chips) without their factories in Asia? Does America grow enough food for itself, or will it suffer from lack of imports? If the US can’t rely on cheap labour in Asia to produce its goods, who can they use?