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CONSOLE: PC DEVELOPER: SuperVillain Studios PUBLISHER: Disney Interactive
RELEASE DATE (NA): September 15, 2015 GENRE: Match-3
// review by EscapeRouteBritish

It's a bit of a fixer-upper...

Frozen is, according to the Internet, the story of two lesbian sisters who live together with a possessed snowman. In actuality, it is Disney's major blockbuster hit movie about a queen who, thanks to weird magic powers bestowed upon her at birth, accidentally plunges her kingdom into an ice age while her sister goes on a journey to put things right. It's a masterpiece much as everybody will tell you, but in this reviewer's most humble opinion Tangled is a better film.

With its "frozen" theme, this tenuously seasonal film serves to be a good fit for an ice-based puzzle game, though with added microtransactions because apparently casual gamers are naive children who are still okay with this immoral practice. Think back to before these turned up in games: were the games still fun then? Challenging? Enjoyable? At what point did these become mandatory?

So it's a Match-3. You have a grid-based board which is filled with ice crystals of different appealing colours. They shimmer and sparkle like 3D objects, imbued with fantastic detail. This makes them look very clickable, like flashing buttons on a roulette machine. Even on a game as still as this, enough movement happens to convince you that the game is still very much active. Characters wave at you vying for your attention, as if to say, "Stop staring at the mesmerising ice crystals and click something!"

As you match three or more ice crystals of a colour together, they smash into shards. Pieces directly above (and above to the side) drop down to take their place. Planning for pieces to drop to make more matches, and continue creating combos, is satisfying when pulled off. It is also satisfying when it happens without intending to do so. Matching four or five pieces together creates special pieces that freeze, wipe away or completely destroy any type of ice crystal all at once. Taking advantage of these to destroy large numbers of pieces yields high scores.

Each stage has a goal to be completed. Some stages require a goal score to be met, others require a certain number of a particular ice crystal to be destroyed. Many stages with a specific goal also contain a secondary goal, so for example a stage where you must destroy 32 purple crystals and 32 blue crystals may also have a score requirement of 35,000 points. When I originally played this game on consoles it proved hard to complete such multi-tiered stages because of the slow movement speed, but on the PC Steam version of Free Fall you can use your mouse to interact with most of the game.

As the difficulty ramps up, so does the temptation to make in-app purchases. You can purchase extra lives (to recover those you lose by leaving or losing a stage), snowballs (which add extra moves if you're running low), icepicks (which destroy one selected tile), hourglasses (which add extra time in timed stages), and characters for versus mode. The characters are a rip, however, because they can all be unlocked just by playing the game. Actually, it's all a rip-off because the game can be completed without ever spending a penny. Well, outside of the cost for computer power, internet connection, yada yada.

It could have been worse. I'm not sure how, but it could have.

From what I can tell, there are hundreds of stages, with many more gimmicks, than I have encountered. I will obviously not be playing much more of this because it's another by-the-blueprint manufactured addiction generator, and I already have enough addictions already. It isn't poorly made, either. This particular port doesn't have the massive amounts of stuttering found in the console versions or the longer screen transitions. The character models all look halfway decent. I cannot be bothered to check the credits, so I'll assume they were not provided by Disney but had to be modelled from scratch. For that reason alone, I cannot fault them, because they're very accurate.

The sound design is generic and stock, there are no famous tunes, leitmotifs, or songs from the film present in this game. That said, there isn't anything bad about them musically, they just don't fit in with Frozen. These tunes sound like they should be played on the shopping menu in The Sims.

There are nine unlockable characters including Sven the reindeer, Olaf the snowman and Hans the despicable piece of human trash. Each character has their own special ability, but you'll never get a good chance to try those out because they're incredibly rare to find, unless you want to fork out for it.

The only multiplayer is local, which seems a bit of an oversight, especially on this Steam release. Also, while there are trading cards, they only unlock when you make in-app purchases, so you need to dig deep if you want to make those badges.

This very basic puzzler really needs some pizzazz and some proper content. I play Frozen Free Fall and I wish I was playing Bejeweled 3, and the reason for that is simply because Bejeweled 3 has more modes and play styles. Once you've exhausted the first forty levels, you've seen all Free Fall has to offer before it starts to repeat itself.

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