HomeReviews3.5/5 ReviewThe Snow Fable: Mystery of the Flame Review

The Snow Fable: Mystery of the Flame Review

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The Snow Fable: Mystery of the Flame is one of those post-Puzzle Quest games where matching three coloured gems causes everything to explode, fancy mega-gems to cascade down, and a narrative to progress in some way. And we’re all here for it. As much as we love mindlessly matching three, sometimes we want to mix it up with extra stuff. 

In The Snow Fable: Mystery of the Flame, a young girl wants to save her creepy floating fireball friend, which means visiting the local sorcerer. But the sorcerer is something of a recluse, so the task isn’t an easy one. She needs to get past a magical gate, which leads to a blocked passageway, a grumpy cook, a broken fountain and so on. Clearing these obstacles needs items, and those items can only be unlocked with – and this is where you need to allow it some artistic licence – a match-three game or two.

the snow fable mystery of the flame review 1
Are you ready to matchy-matchy?

As a story goes, it’s thin enough that a summer breeze would blow it away. We’re not in Puzzle Quest territory here: it’s pretty much the journey of a young girl to a castle, with a single twist at the end to jazz everything up. We doubt Geralt would even have accepted it as a side quest. 

But while it’s slight, it’s still welcome, and there’s at least some Jim Henson-like grotesques to meet along the way. We’re not sure if they were meant to be creepy, but the friends you make along the way would have felt right at home in Dark Crystal or Labyrinth. Again, it’s better than brainlessly climbing a Candy Crush ladder. 

The story’s also a means for unlocking new power-ups in the puzzling. Each floating friend that you gain in the story can be called on once your power meter has filled up sufficiently. The fireball dude chooses three gems to explode with napalm, while a water friend washes the screen, causing the gems to turn mostly blue. Tinkering with these allies is good fun, and you will soon rest on a favourite. Unless you’re chasing an achievement for using one of them fifty times. 

The gem-matching starts off simple, with some of the staples of the genre present and correct. Initially, you will just be matching specific colours to meet an objective. Perhaps you’ll need thirty yellow gems before the level snaps shut. Then the traditional ‘dropper’ gems turn up, and you need to clear the gems below them so that they hit the bottom of the puzzle. Only then will they disappear and add to your total. 

But The Snow Fable: Mystery of the Flame has ideas, and tosses in some stuff that we haven’t seen before. Our favourite is parchment which sits behind the wall of gems. If you include a paint pot in a match – as they conveniently come in the same colours – then they pop in a three-by-three grid of paint. That soaks into the parchment, and you can consider those squares as ‘done’. Your job is to paint the entire parchment, so you soon get good at nudging paint pots into corners and then smashing them with mega-gems. 

the snow fable mystery of the flame review 2
There are some good ideas going on here

Just as successful are big bearded blocks (yeah, we know it doesn’t sound right) that need three flowers to open. These flowers are attached to specific blocks, so it’s a kind of key and lock scenario. Clearing swathes of the beardy blocks in one go causes gems to avalanche down, and so the chain reaction begins. 

Unfortunately, there’s a spanner in the works. These are enemy levels which scatter unmatchable beasties into your grid, and they tend to infuriate rather than build some tension. Just as you’re nearing a match, some red eyes appear in the middle and you have to look elsewhere. 

But they’re reasonably rare, and the puzzle scenarios are mostly great. The Snow Fable: Mystery of the Flame has level ingredients that sprinkle on a bit of spice too, as blocks can be locked behind bars which need one or two matches to remove, while mega-gems appear with four or five gems in a row, and they can bomb large chunks of the play area, or remove all of one colour. 

What lets The Snow Fable: Mystery of the Flame down most, particularly as someone who has played a lot of Jewel on the Xbox app to accumulate Microsoft Reward Points, is that it’s too stop-start. In Jewel, you can match gems even while the grid is in the midst of a chain reaction. You’re never waiting for the grid to catch up: you can steal in and make some additional matches. But in The Snow Fable: Mystery of the Flame, you have to wait, and that feels thoroughly unmodern. Pretty much every match-three game from the past ten years has solved this problem.

That clunkiness continues with the actual matching. We’re used to these games being versatile: if you want drag a gem, then you can. If you want to tap to activate and then tap to swap, then you can do that too. And, of course, you can make your match while other gems are exploding. But The Snow Fable: Mystery of the Flame is restrictive. You can only tap to select and tap to move, and the result is that – about a dozen times per puzzle – we were trying to match three, only for the gem to not select or swap for some reason. We never quite felt like we were in a flow.

the snow fable mystery of the flame review 3
It’s all about the Mystery of the Flame

But while The Snow Fable: Mystery of the Flame can feel a little like a stuffy match-three CD-ROM from PC’s early days – with all of the awkward usability that comes with the comparison – it’s a pretty damn good example of one. Every match comes with pyrotechnics, and when the smoke clears, you’ve got a grid full of mega-gems that will explode everything further. Your power-up meter fills up, and then you can trigger yet another mushroom cloud. 

The Snow Fable: Mystery of the Flame has the generosity of spirit to create a waterfall of matches, when all you’ve done is matched three yellow gems in a line. And that’s its secret: it keeps rewarding you for doing very little indeed, and that was precisely what we were in the mood for.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Loads of power-ups and gems to tinker with
  • Some superb level objectives
  • Plenty of levels and bonus modes
Cons:
  • The story is extremely basic
  • We dreaded the creature levels
  • Needed more dynamism to matching gems
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to : Purchased by TXH
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (review)
  • Release date and price - 21 July 2023 | £6.69
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Loads of power-ups and gems to tinker with</li> <li>Some superb level objectives</li> <li>Plenty of levels and bonus modes</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>The story is extremely basic</li> <li>We dreaded the creature levels</li> <li>Needed more dynamism to matching gems</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to : Purchased by TXH</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (review) <li>Release date and price - 21 July 2023 | £6.69</li> </ul>The Snow Fable: Mystery of the Flame Review
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