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There’s a wealth of games that take the classic Bejeweled format and run with it, and many of them get lost in the crowd as generic clones with little on offer; The Forgotten Land is not amongst them, with its charming rustic aesthetic and engaging progression system keeping things fresh.

Gameplay

With The Forgotten Land being a puzzle-based adventure, stockpiled to the brim with incentives to plow on, mixed in with a handful of match-em-up minigames to give you a breather when the Bejeweled core starts to stack up, the gameplay is fairly simplistic in concept.

Connect three gems or more in a row to destroy said row, although stacking four or more will give you a special item drop such as bombs and throwing knives which can cause some damage to your playing board and spread the love more so than the typical line-up. It’s easy to pick up and the levels are diverse enough to keep things from feeling repetitive, with variants of the format being used such as reaching a certain point threshold, destroying certain grassy or sandy plots and fighting bosses that you can deal damage to by connecting swords rather than gems and the.

The crux in an experience such as this comes in the polish and fine-tuning which The Forgotten Land basks in. Glorious animations and slick movements galore make for a responsive and fluid experience. The only major drawback is that you can’t use the d-pad as a means of moving the cursor which would feel far more natural than fiddling around with a joy stick given the grid-based gameplay.

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Beyond your level progression through a miasma of puzzles lies the campsite in which you use your hard-earned currency to purchase new buildings, decking it out and building up a helluva place to rest your head at night. The backdrop feels like something out of BBC’s Merlin or even Halloweentown, with its charming red moon and the imposing silhouette of the fortress atop the hill in the distance.

World / Level Design

On the surface, it looks as though there isn’t much need for intricate level design in a Bejeweled experience, but it’s a critical aspect of gameplay given the plethora of levels that you will stumble through. For fighting against foes by means of connecting swords, there isn’t much need for changing things up barring the number of opponents and the difficulty of AI, but when it comes to racking up points or breaking gems on grass and sand patches to rid the land of their growth, then level design becomes important.

Luckily, The Forgotten Land is incredibly well thought out in design, with each level varying from the last, keeping things fresh whilst never feeling unfair in difficulty or janky in execution. The world inhabited is spectacularly designed with its charming artwork, but you’ll find yourself on the playing board with the gloomy forest adorning your backdrop more than you will be frolicking around in the campsite.

Story / Personality

The Forgotten Land has a text-based story with some pop up heads but the lore is often cliched and generic and you’re more than likely to forget about it when you’re knee-deep in puzzles. It’s not particularly memorable and the writing isn’t anything to write home about, but it serves its purpose in adding a layer of progression to the experience, complimenting the growing campsite mechanic and the level system.

Where The Forgotten Land truly shines is in its personality, where you’ll find that it is rustic in aesthetic and beautifully glum in design, yet somber in its color palette. It’s a visual treat that feels almost homemade in all the best ways.

Graphics / Art Design

Slick and vibrant gems, cutesy boxes and bombs, easy to understand visual aids and a central hub that oozes charm reminiscent of a living and breathing painting more so than a video-game – The Forgotten Land has stunning art design and its graphics are up to scratch, with no blurred lines or fuzzy edges. It looks fantastic on the handheld tablet and it stays true to its core when plugged into a bigger screen.

Music / Sound Design

As you sit by the roaring campfire with the moon atop the hill, lingering behind the stone ruins and the jagged branched tree, the repetitive cycle of crickets chirping can be heard, but it jarringly fades out before beginning once more. The general ambiance is spectacular, but the circle of sounds playing can be jarring.

Nonetheless, The Forgotten Land feels like a classic puzzle deep-dive, with its user interface sporting clacky sounds that make you feel like Lara Croft and satisfying pops that remind you of the good ol’ days of finding treasure in an old PS2 title. Connect the gems and you’ll be met with stone-sounding clashes that make you feel like you’ve delved into a dungeon and began rummaging around with some old panels to make a hidden door open. All in all, the aesthetic that the art brings to the table is perfectly complimented.

Final Score: 80%

The Forgotten Land is a puzzle experience with a hook that will reel you in time and time again, with its easy to pick up and engaging gameplay that serves as a killer time killer. There’s plenty of incentive to keep pushing on from level to level which is a refreshing change of pace in the genre, so it stands out from the rest, putting its own spin on a fairly stagnant scene.

Thank you for checking out our The Forgotten Land Switch review, thank you to Rokaplay for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support:

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Posted by James Troughton

James is a writer from England who also works for TheGamer and CBR