Candy Crush Jelly Saga Review

Sour Candy

Candy Crush Jelly Saga

A Game Of Skill

It doesn't matter who you are - you've played Candy Crush Saga. It's one of the biggest games in the history of the App Store, and it got that way for a reason. Candy Crush Saga wasn't the first match-3 game, nor did it do anything terribly revolutionary. But it was balanced. The levels were challenging, but rarely impossibly so. It was a game of skill, with a little dash of luck thrown in. Every level felt like you could beat it, even after you'd burned through your five hearts and spent a small fortune on more.

Candy Crush Jelly Saga is not that game.

The Change Up

The third release in the series, Candy Crush Jelly Saga introduces a number of twists that help shake things up while remaining faithful to the core gameplay, but it shrugs off the fair and balanced level design that made the original Candy Crush such a hit in the first place. Even in the first 10 levels, you'll find yourself cursing aloud at your phone time and again, repeating levels seemingly endlessly as you try to make an ounce of progress.

Free-to-play games succeed when they introduce occasional difficulty spikes. The problem with Candy Crush Jelly Saga is that they seem to have forgotten the "occasional" part.

Some of this, it would seem, is the direct result of the new challenges the game has introduced. The most basic of these -- the titular jelly -- needs to be spread across the candies on certain levels by matching clean candies with those that are all ​gooped up. Not too difficult, admittedly -- but then you're pitted in a boss battle against the Jelly Queen to spread more of your jelly than they can theirs, elbowing each other for room in this weird, match-3, jellified twist on Othello. You can (and will) accidentally spread the Queen's jelly instead of your own on some moves, leveling an already frustrating challenge up to downright infuriating.

After this you'll meet the Pufflers - a family of candy worms that live under the frosted candies on your board and can only be seen when you clear a section away. Once spotted, they'll move to another part of the board. You need to trap them by making matches, then clear away the candies above them to remove them from the board.

Pretty soon, a lot of these pieces collide in a ludicrous mix. Stage 10 expects you to clear away frosting -- double-layered in every other row -- and work around locked boxes while trying to expose four pufflers. And you have to do it all in 25 moves.

I am 35 years old, a veteran game critic, and a fan of match-3 games. I cannot beat the 10th stage in Candy Crush Jelly Saga.

Eventually I was only able to get beyond this stage by purchasing an item that let me earn five more moves. On many of the stages I could accomplish without items, I felt it was the result of luck rather than skill. If the stars (errr.. candies) didn't align just right, there was no way I was completing a tough stage -- and there are so many tough stages.

I can see where the elements introduced in Candy Crush Jelly Saga could have been great fun if implemented better. The idea of fighting for space against the Jelly Queen, for example, has tons of merit. But the execution was flawed and the challenge uneven. That really sums up the Candy Crush Jelly Saga experience as a whole.

If you want something that's surprisingly difficult, this is the match-3 game for you. If not... Candy Crush Saga and Candy Crush Soda Saga will put a much bigger smile on your face.