Marvel's superheroes have faced many seemingly insurmountable challenges over the years: the world-devouring Galactus, the fiendish schemes of Doctor Doom, the mad titan Thanos. But can they survive - deep breath - the horrors of Free To Play?
Actually, spoiler alert, yes they can. Marvel Puzzle Quest includes many of freemium gaming's most odious mechanisms, including cooldown timers, multiple depleting micro-payment currencies and an omnipresent store that offers powerful boosts for those who toss a few coins to the ferryman, but none of them are ever quite enough to derail the experience. Indeed, the game is often quite generous, welcoming you back with big chunks of bonus currency or handing out a free character just to celebrate some online event or other.
It helps that the Puzzle Quest at the heart of the game is much the same addictive time-sink that it's always been. The series has been MIA since Puzzle Quest 2 back in 2010, and the familiar match-three core and light RPG trimmings remain intact. You have a team of Marvel characters, the roster of which can expanded by earning or buying comic book covers, and you pit them in gem-swapping combat against a variety of foes, ranging from basic grunts from canon-approved bad guy outfits like Hammer Industries, A.I.M and the Maggia, all the way up to heavy hitters such as Venom, Juggernaut and Doctor Doom.