HomeReviews3.5/5 ReviewMatch Village Review

Match Village Review

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The concept of a relaxing and strategic building game has been mastered by the likes of Dorfromantik and ISLANDERS. But what if you added a bit of match-3 gameplay into the mix? 

Well that’s essentially the idea behind Rising Moon Games’ latest offering for Xbox, Match Village. They’ve already got form for developing relaxing titles with the Railway Islands series, so let’s find out whether Match Village is a good match for you, or if it fails to achieve the chilled atmosphere it hopes to create.

As a minimalistic game, you’re warned from the outset not to expect an AAA experience, but that you will have a satisfactory time with Match Village. What the developer fails to do however, is include a tutorial to explain the mechanics, or even the mere basics. So unfortunately, you’ll be left winging it, wasting a little bit of time figuring everything out. It’s a good job there’s not a ton of things to grasp.

Match Village review 1
Get matching with some Match-3 building

Presented with a procedurally-generated island made up of hexagonal tiles, the aim is to place tiles atop of it to bring life to the otherwise barren area. When three or more tiles of a similar ilk are adjacent to each other, they’ll merge into an upgraded version of whatever it is. For example, three grassy tiles become bushier grass, which then evolves into a brewery upon matching three of them. In doing so, you’ll earn points and, should you hit the target score, it’ll eventually allow you to move on to a new island. 

With a limited amount of tiles at your disposal, failure to progress is quite possible. Fortunately though, you can garner additional tiles through matching as well as by surrounding certain buildings with tiles to fulfil a specific request. Once you work that out, there’s much more joy to be had because progression is important to enable Match Village to flourish.

That’s mainly due to the introduction of fresh tiles on future islands. It goes from being fairly basic with grass, stone, and houses, to the likes of seaweed, churches, and taverns. The seaweed is especially interesting – bear with me here – as you aren’t constrained to the island itself and instead you can place it in the spacious ocean. Furthermore, special tiles can also expand the island slightly to create extra space, allowing you to show off your matching skills. 

Match Village review 2
Match Village mixes things up

Triggering a chain of matches is fairly satisfying and witnessing the end products of your merging exploits for the first time is pretty cool. Whether Match Village is actually relaxing, or not, I’m unsure. 

You see, you have to consider a fair few aspects and come up with a strategy before placing almost every tile. Factoring in if there will be enough room to fit three tiles, where the eventual merge occurs, and how it interferes with its neighbours, are all important to succeed. The amount of tiles to use and spaces on the island are limited after all, so it’s easy to mess up and later realise you can’t create what you need in order to keep going. It’s necessary to ensure a challenge is to be had, but there’s certainly an element of stress to proceedings as a result.

There’s also a bit of frustration in regards to the restrictive camera view, which allows zooming in and out of the centre of the island, but no lateral movement. On top of that, the minimalist style makes it tricky to distinguish the difference between some buildings. It could do with annotations to tell you what a particular tile is when hovering over it, or something like that.

Match Village review 3
An interesting idea that doesn’t build

Match Village has an interesting match-3 concept, but doesn’t quite build upon that sufficiently. The lack of a tutorial gets things off to a bad start and that may put people off, which means they miss out on the more rewarding aspects. As fresh tiles enter the fray and new mechanics come into play, the fun factor increases. The stress levels rise too however, throwing any chance of relaxation out the window.

Considering the low price point, Match Village is perhaps worth a punt for match-3 addicts, but don’t expect to chill out too much.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Cheap
  • Strategic match-3 concept
  • Progression brings more enjoyment
Cons:
  • No tutorial
  • Stressful time management
  • Quality of life issues
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, QUByte
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC
  • Release date and price - 14 March 2024 | £4.19
James Birks
James Birks
Been gaming casually since the SNES as a youngster but found my true passion for games on the Playstation 1 (the forbidden word ooo). My addiction grew to its pinnacle with the purchase of an Xbox 360 & Xbox Live Service. A recovering GS hunter that will still play literally any game.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Cheap</li> <li>Strategic match-3 concept</li> <li>Progression brings more enjoyment</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>No tutorial</li> <li>Stressful time management</li> <li>Quality of life issues</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, QUByte</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC <li>Release date and price - 14 March 2024 | £4.19</li> </ul>Match Village Review
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