Puzzles & Survival
Puzzles & Survival
Strategy RPG
  • Operating System:
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  • Updated:
    Dec 27, 2022
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A puzzling concoction of match-3 and base-building mechanics

Puzzles & Survival is another one in the line of match-3 games with an underlying plotline. Don’t be fooled by this game’s incredible-looking ads. What you end up getting is yet another settlement-management game with some turned-based match-3 combat thrown in for good measure. At this point, ads shouldn’t fool anyone, but you never know!

Here, the puzzles are completed alongside an underwhelming battle screen consisting of zombies standing in front of a 2D backdrop, miles apart from the action-packed cinematic scenes I was shown while swiping right on my dating app. 

Upon launching your game, you are immediately introduced to the puzzles, which are made up of 7 columns and 5 rows. You may already know the drill, but in case you don’t, you must match at least 3 tiles of the same color (and get special bonuses upon matching 4 or more). The tiles you combine will be tossed against the enemies you fight, causing them damage.

Then you have the “Heroes,” and there are a ton of those: Kento, Maverick (yep, not making that one up), Barbie (not making that one up, either), Malcolm, Ulrik, Gul’dan, Khadgar (ok, I made those two up!), and so on.

Each hero has a “style,” and each “style” is tied to a color. Thus, “Wary” is yellow, “Avid” purple, “Calm” blue, “Brave” green, and “Rash” red. As you might guess, these colors match the ones you find on the puzzle grid, so the tiles will consequently get their strength from the heroes’ styles.

Next, you have the Sanctuary, which is essentially your base. This is where the game's strategy elements come into full display and, as you may imagine, is where you train troops, build buildings, upgrade upgrades, and defend defenses. All joking aside, there are some intriguing plot-heavy mechanics that I find unique. 

Case in point, allow me to introduce you to EVA, an “AI” built from a real female hero called Nova (who gets infected at the beginning of the game.) EVA might not be capable of generating an entire article on the cosmological implications of making pineapple macaroni, but she is like your typical dystopian mother brain that you can upgrade to levels beyond what Elon Musk ever thought imaginable (by using Nova Points obtainable after certain events).

How to play

In short, Eva works as your settlement’s “Research Center” and, as such, is responsible for upgrading your economy and military skills.

Ok, but what about the combat? Well, you can fight two types of foes: Other players and zombies. But here’s the catch: Zombies have actual lairs that you must rally. What’s so amusing about this fact is that it rests on the notion that zombies are intelligent beings with the ability not only to organize but also: Craft and maneuver machinery, build fortresses, and have an actual battle strategy (let alone “retreat” from battle!) This is not the first game to operate on these strange presuppositions, but they can never not be funny to me!

The zombie rallies themselves are visually attractive, but there is nothing you can do except watch. There aren’t even any match-3 puzzles in the interim. You only need to keep an eye on the “Morale” meter at the top. When the meter depletes, you lose the battle, simple as!

On another note, throughout the course of the game, you’ll face some critical choices that will impact the rest of the story. The first one is pretty obvious - namely, save the infested Nova or mercy-kill her - but you must also choose whether to invite certain people into your Sanctuary. This caught me off guard (but in a very good way!)

Lastly, I was pleasantly impressed with the game’s visuals (although, as mentioned earlier, they were nothing like in the ads). The voice acting, though: Ugh! Some of the cringest I’ve heard in a while! Talk about money wasted on wages!


Puzzles & Survival is a surprisingly good game with an unsurprisingly surplus of flaws. Despite its deceptive ads, I did enjoy my time with it, and its online co-op functionalities were moderately decent, too. If you wish to kill free time destroying zombie civilization (whatever that even is), then this game is a safe pick!

You can leave your thoughts about this title in the comments down below! And stay safe!


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