Legend of Solgard Mixes Up the Match-Three Genre [Hands-on Preview]

The latest King Entertainment-published mobile game Legend of Solgard is very much a game inspired by the environment and the history of its developer, Snowprint Studios. Located primarily in Stockholm, Sweden, Snowprint is situated within a landmass with a rich history of Norse mythology and Viking culture. All of this, and more, helps make Legend of Solgard an interesting take on the match-three genre.

“We are creating something that’s very close to our hearts,” Alexander Ekvall, CEO and co-founder of Snowprint Studios, told me. “To be able to do our own take on Norse mythology and Nordic folklore is great. To work with talented people, see them interpreting and translating what they’d been growing up with … I think it’s an amazing experience.”

So, what is Snowprint’s “own take” on the history that they grew up with? You are Embla, a fierce warrior, on a quest to stop the end of the world at the hands of the Moon God as he ushers in Ragnarok, the end times. With the blessings of the Sun Goddess on your side, you amass an army of creatures with different skills and abilities to “kick some ice,” as the game’s marketing puts it. It’s a well-defined premise with a beautiful and cartoonish art direction, and it acts as a solid base narrative of chaos and multiple fronts of war to establish both the mechanics and the various different game modes.

Legend of Solgard Preview: Form a Disorderly Queue

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At its core, Legend of Solgard is what it appears to be on the tin – a match-three game. But it’s a little bit more complicated than that. When you enter a level, you choose four different characters from a varied selection that expands the more you play. Each level, excluding boss fights, pits you up against various ice-themed enemies defending a portal that you have to destroy. To deal damage, you line up a vertical row of three of the same creature, all merging into one fighter that commences its attack at the end of your turn.

There are four color categories, each containing a uniquely-themed selection of characters. Throughout all of the colors, there are three types: defender, attacker, and supporter. Your full roster contains a colour of each: Elfling, a yellow supporter; Grimchop, a green defender; Roughpaw, a red supporter; and Nightcast, a purple defender. Match three Elflings and he’ll fling a button at a random enemy, dealing one or two points of damage and stunning it. Three Grimchops does the same but with his shield at enemies directly in front of them, and the shield can penetrate depending on how much power you have.

Combine that with enemies on the opposing side of the level and a portal with its own hit points, as well as the need to recall any used fighters at the start of each turn, and Legend of Solgard almost becomes a fusion of a match-three puzzle game and a TCG like Magic: The Gathering and its tactical deploying of certain characters, tapping resources, and so on. It’s a lot less complicated than that, but there’s still enough for the game to become strategic to a certain degree. It’s this added strategy that makes Legend of Solgard feel refreshing in a sea of cheap match-three games.

Legend of Solgard Preview: An Overwhelming Amount of Variety

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As well as the standard campaign trail, Legend of Solgard has a few different game modes. There’s Treasure Caves, where seven times every two days you can try to harvest Sun Gems, which you use to upgrade your creatures, and The Dungeons, where you can create or join a guild that you cooperate with to shatter the crystals of bosses to weaken them and reap in the rewards. Hero Arena is Legend of Solgard’s PvP game mode, where you fight other players to collect diamonds (a premium currency) treasure chests and trophies. Bounties task you with capturing three villains to claim gold, though you only have a day before it resets. The Underworld allows you to rescue imprisoned creatures from Creature Crates.

There’s a huge amount to get up to in Legend of Solgard. But from a beginner’s perspective, it risks overwhelming the senses. The complexity of the experience certainly adds a lot of replayability and plenty of variety when you’re actually playing the game. However, when there’s just so much to do, you can feel lost and confused. There’s only more on the way, as well, with Snowprint having continued development on more content like live events. It may, however, simply have a steep learning curve. It certainly fits into what King is hoping will be a step outside of the casual market and into the core gaming sphere.

Legend of Solgard Preview: A Fresh Evolution

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Match-three games haven’t expanded much beyond the basic formula. Legend of Solgard attempts to do just that, and in a lot of ways, it succeeds. It’s incredibly satisfying to play, and when all of your strategy and forward-thinking falls neatly into place and pays off, it can give you a rush. It’s definitely not a casual experience, and there are a lot of factors for you to keep track of in the metagame, but if you can get on top if it all then you’ll have plenty of content to experience. There’s even more on the way, and the promise of continued expansions and additional content coming in the near future.

If you enjoy match-three games but want a game that brings something new to the standard formula, then Legend of Solgard might be worth checking out. It takes a stagnant genre and gives it a lick of fresh paint, and that paint tastes pretty good.

Disclaimer: King flew me out to Sweden to attend the preview event for Legend of Solgard. Travel, food, and accommodation were all paid for in order to facilitate my attendance.