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Game Info:

The Enthralling Realms: An Alchemist's Tale
Developed By: e-FunSoft Games
Published By: HH-Games
Released: Feb 1, 2019
Available On: Microsoft Windows
Genre: Match-3/Puzzle
ESRB Rating: None specified
Number of Players: Singleplayer
Price: $4.99

First, my thanks to HH Games for the review key for this game.

Match-3 games (where one lines up 3 or more symbols to remove them from a game board) are a dime a dozen these days, being nigh ubiquitous in their commonality, Those that make them have to include something that makes them special or at least stand out from the numerous imitators. The Enthralling Realms: An Alchemist's Tale is an attempt to do just this.

The story of this game is that you are Carol, a promising student in your alchemy class alongside your sister Iris, or you were until Iris died due to a foolish experiment as Carol tried to make a potion for eternal life. You were expelled, and you now seek the means to revive Iris and redeem yourself.

The gameplay is 80/20 mix of Match-3 game and kinetic novel, with the latter providing story justification for the game progress, but the meat of the gameplay is lining up 3 or more items and causing them to disappear to fulfill level objectives, typically to get a certain amount of combinations of noted items shown above the game board. There are certain additional board clearing powerups one can unlock that are typical to the Match-3 genre, and later levels will require their use extensively, though early ones provide ample practice. There is no free play mode, unfortunately, but the campaign is replayable and can provide many levels of enjoyment, so it does have some limited replay value.

The Enthralling Realms: An Alchemist's Tale
Highlights:

Strong Points: Good Match-3 gameplay
Weak Points: No free play mode
Moral Warnings: Some mentions of magic and alchemy; comedic violence against spiders

Graphics are a pleasing choice of high fantasy artwork with mostly realistic proportions yet vaguely anime-style art design and compliment the generic Tolkien-esque fantasy motifs of the game setting. Sounds are soothing fantasy soundtracks that either inspire or sound relaxing during gameplay and go especially well with the graphical themes.

Controls are quite good, primarily mouse-driven and responsive, but there is no way to exit the game smoothly unless one is already doing a Match-3 level, which is the only place the player can access the main game menu, which is a bit annoying. Game stability can suffer on Windows 10, but there is a provided compatibility mode for users of that OS, and the developer has proven responsive to user feedback for patching issues.

Morally, this game has some issues when it comes to the occult and the supernatural. Alchemy is portrayed as a mix of magic and medicine, with some vaguely occult-like effects producible from the more fantastical creations, such as precognition.

The Enthralling Realms: An Alchemist's Tale
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 82%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 86%
Violence - 9/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 7/10

Conversely, the game does point out there is an in-game ethical system for alchemists in which certain things like necromancy (explicitly defined as evil) are considered beyond the pale and alchemists are regulated and trained to be responsible to others as well as refraining from meddling with powers they cannot comprehend. This is relevant to the main plot as that was Carol's moral failing that she is attempting to redeem herself from, and the plot has a strong moral about responsibility and selflessness, qualities Carol lacks at the beginning but begins to show an appreciation for as the story wears on.

The biggest moral concern is that Carol seeks to revive her sister Iris from injuries that left her in a death-like state (in effect, a medical coma in which she is barely alive due to mortal wounds), essentially trying to circumvent death. Christians especially would find objectionable, but the story makes clear even alchemists cannot do so. While she finds a more mundane, medically-based alternative in the end that is far more morally suitable, it is something worthy of note for those who may be offended by such themes.

Otherwise, the game is free of foul language, perverse themes, and the only violence is a cartoony effect that can cause spiders to fall off the game board if they get hit with a combination of symbols, but this title is otherwise bloodless and bereft of gore.

An Alchemist's Tale doesn't exactly break new ground in the Match-3 department, but it is technically sound and fun during the reasonably long campaign mode. Morally, aside from some mentions of magic as noted above, it's otherwise a fairly clean-minded alternative to many other Match-3 games on the market, and any older child or adult would find it both fun and easy to play.

About the Author

Daniel Cullen

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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