Marble Duel is a brand-new matching game by HeroCraft released on Xbox One and Xbox Series consoles. For me, matching games are one of the most relaxing games despite some of them being really tough. Marble Duel falls between easy and difficult games as the challenge is not very tough here but you still need to use a strategy in order to win here. This our review of Marble Duel on Xbox Series X in which we match some colored spheres and beat up some evil enemies.
Marble Duel follows the story of a young girl called Evy who is setting out on a path to learning magic. Throughout her journey, she makes new friends that help her out on her journey but also comes across as an evil witch who has multiple accomplices that threaten Evy’s journey. Your ultimate goal is to reach the evil witch and defeat her at her own game which is the mastery of magic. As you progress in the main game, you get to learn new powers, become more powerful and comfortable with using magic which prepares you for the upcoming final battle.
Marble Duel’s gameplay is different from traditional matching games because you are not the only one matching spheres here. Along with you, an enemy is also matching spheres at the same level, and depending on the spheres you or your enemy matches, a specific action happens. There are multiple colored spheres in the game for example you have red, white, blue, and green. Matching red spheres will damage your enemies and your main goal is to make sure that you survive until the very end and you damage your enemies enough that their life reaches zero. Damage can only be dealt with the red spheres and it depends on how many red spheres you can match in the same turn.
Spheres of colors other than red are support spheres. For example, if you are low on health, match three green spheres for some extra health. If you need a shield, match blue spheres and you should be good to go for your next enemy attack. Shields do not absorb all of the incoming damage, but they do absorb quite a decent amount of damage. You will need to mix and match these spheres to win in the game. You cannot expect to clear the levels by just focusing on the red attack spheres because most of the enemies in the game are more powerful than you.
They have more health and their attacks also deal more damage. As you complete levels, you also earn crystals based on your performance in the game. You can use these crystals to purchase some upgrades as well which increase your health, damage and more. These upgrades are not permanent and you can also revert them back and invest the crystals into another slot if you are not happy with your initial purchases. This also comes in handy when you have to go against certain enemies who are strong against a certain mechanic and you want to buff up your counter-mechanic.
For each turn, you only get a specific number of spheres to launch and match in the level. Each level features a different challenge and each enemy is also unique. Some focus of self-defense while some will keep on the offensive. You will need to adjust your strategy for each enemy in the game accordingly. If you can land some extensive combos and shots, you can match multiple colored spheres in the same move and deal additional damage, gain some health along with shield at the same time. Such moves deal additional damage as well and sometimes you also get a few extra shots and if you use them wisely, you can keep a chain going and not let your enemy play at all.
The game is played in the form of levels and in between the level selection, you will often get to see different cutscenes that detail the narrative of the game. These cutscenes are in the form of a visual novel and are pretty small mostly. The only extra animation that you see here is the character portraits and those are only animated in a set pattern as well. Overall, the visuals of the game are pretty decent, and special effects during gameplay look good on the Xbox Series X. Technically, the game is pretty stable as well as I did not notice any frame stutter even where there were a lot of effects on the screen.
One thing that does stand out while playing the game is that the audio design is pretty good. While you are matching spheres or watching the narrative cutscenes, you will get to hear music that really suits the game and its design. At some points, the music seems to be a little louder than normal, but they were very few instances where this happened. Apart from this, I did notice some spelling mistakes here and there however I am sure that could be fixed with a simple patch. The game does offer a decent amount of levels for you to play as you move from one environment to another. The level of the challenge also increases as you progress in the game and keeps the game entertaining enough to have you coming back for more.
Marble Dual certainly brings a unique twist to the whole matching genre. While we’ve seen plenty of similar matching games in the past, introducing two-player matching with each sphere having a unique purpose really makes it an interesting take on a tried and tested formula. It is a simple game however it still keeps you interested with its unique gameplay mechanics with decent visuals and a good soundtrack to keep you entertained. For me, Marble Duel would be brilliant on a handheld such as a Nintendo Switch on PS Vita but even on a console such as Xbox Series X, it is still a brilliant title to play with its two-player mode. A must-play if you love colorful matching games.
Final Score: 8.5/10
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