Don’t judge me for liking Match 3. Add RPG and I’m in love.
Oafwatch follows the likes of Puzzle Quest by merging the concept of Match 3 with RPG statistics. At the core, it is essentially match your coloured gems, make big combos and get a shiny gold star for completing the objective. Each gem stacks against weapons – special attacks – that you have to use strategically to win. The enemy is constantly placing their own special moves on the board, which pressures you into making intelligent choices rather than just going for damage.
It’s a very slow-paced Match 3, with emphasis on strategy and thought with every move.
This makes it a very different style of gameplay to the last Match 3 / RPG hybrids I reviewed, such as ‘1000000’ and ‘You Must Build a Boat’ which were very much speedrunners. In Oafmatch, you can take as long as you want to find the perfect move.
There are a lot of unlockable party members, and party management involves levelling, equipment and potions. These can be switched around for each fight if necessary, and you will definitely need to put somne thought into that at the higher difficulty levels. One of the downsides is the game can be quite grindy with the usual dollop of RNG luck in there; if you can’t complete a level and aren’t getting lucky with your gem combos, you will need to grind earlier stages to upgrade your stats to continue.
There are two (and a half) modes; campaign and roguelike. Campaign follows a simple quest where you roam around the map defeating things with violence and unlocking new stages, members and items. Each stage can be completed on three difficulty levels; with a blue star for completion and the shiny covetted gold star for perfect (no party member dies). Getting three gold stars on some of the maps is pretty challenging, and I had to grind, switch up and go back at a few stages. There is also a campaign + where you have your progression unlocked from the beginning, but the fights are harder again.
Roguelike is exactly as it sounds; extremely hard and sometimes unfair, but a real challenge with unlockables that carry over and this adds some real replayability to the game. Replaying the campaign after getting your gold shinies would be boring – but roguelike adds an extra layer of RNG and challenge that means this game contains a lot of playable hours for the price.
Overall Oafwatch has an absolute ton of content, although with the limited scope of Match 3 games it can get repetitive and grindy. This has been alleviated somewhat with an extensive array of choices, characters and items – but ultimately with this sort of game, you’re not seeing a massive amount of variation so can feel grindy. It is still a casual game – you can add all the depth in the world to a Match 3 game and ultimately it’s still a simple game at the core, and will only appeal to those who find this genre enjoyable.
An absolute thumbs up from me for anyone who likes the Match 3 genre, especially those who previously enjoyed Puzzle Quest or similar strategy based Match 3 games.
P.S. The name is pretty dumb though!